ZooAmerica Conservation News: January 2022
Update on Partnering For Barn Owls Project
Since 2012, ZooAmerica has installed nest boxes for American kestrels and barn owls in the surrounding farmlands. Most of these boxes are on lands owned by the Milton Hershey School, with lesser numbers on private farms.
Currently, we maintain and monitor roughly thirty boxes for each species. Both of these grassland raptor species are declining throughout their range. The barn owl population in Pennsylvania has declined by over 50% since the 1980s, and kestrels are declining by about 3% annually in North America.
We were pleased to have 70 kestrel chicks produced from 18 of our boxes in 2021. Active barn owl boxes are much harder to come by, but we did have one box that made five chicks. All chicks were banded by Nate McKelvie, a licensed bander who also teaches biology at the Milton Hershey Middle School. The Hershey Area Raptor Partnership (HARP) has been a very fruitful collaboration between ZooAmerica and the Milton Hershey School to help conserve these struggling species.