Dick Clegg (left), who’s been protecting barn owls for about 20 years, shows Gore brothers (from left) Lee, Mark and Tony, what his owl nesting box looks like inside a barn on McDonald Road. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

Fraser Valley developer offering to build barn owl nesting boxes for free

Gore Brothers says anyone with a suitable building can help the threatened raptor

Local developers the Gore Brothers have been watching a barn owl family in their grandparents’ Chilliwack barn their entire lives.

Tony Gore said the barn has been home to generations of owls since 1940.

Tony now lives out in Rosedale and he found a barn owl in his barn, but it had no nest. So he connected with Chilliwack’s local barn owl expert, Dr. Dick Clegg to find out what to do.

Turns out all a barn owl really needs is a platform up high in a barn and the raptor takes care of the rest.

Tony figured there must be other people like him with a barn that could use a nest and just maybe they could help the threatened species.

So the Gore Brothers are offering to build a next box for anyone with an old barn that wants one.

”We’ve got the manpower because we are in construction,” Tony said. “We are used to dealing heights an building stuff, so it’s kind of up our alley.”

The barn owl, scientific name tyto alba, is a red-listed species in B.C. and is listed as “threatened” under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). The range in all of Canada is almost exclusively in the Lower Mainland and on southern Vancouver Island.

Dick Clegg prepares to band one of three young owls in a barn in Chilliwack in 2013. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Six years ago Clegg talked to The Progress about this very issue. at that time he said the Lower Fraser Valley was home to an estimated 250 to 1,000 adult barn owls, which was most of the population in Canada.

The species had been recently upgraded from of “special concern,” to “threatened,” reflecting a decline in numbers.

• READ MORE: What’s killing the barn owls of the Fraser Valley?

Clegg is a veterinarian who has a special hobby interest in barn owls, birds he has been tracking and banding for years in the area. Year over year the numbers of birds can vary greatly due to numerous factors, including clutch size, habitat destruction, and how harsh the winter is.

Two years ago Clegg banded 200 but last year just 89. This year he is hopeful with the numbers.

“For some reason they are having a good year,” he said. “The clutches are large this year. The numbers of babies I’m banding per nest is closer to five and usually it’s about 3.5.”

The biggest threat to the species is habitat destruction and the use of rat poison by farmers and other industrial operations, as well as homeowners. When rodents pick up sub-lethal doses of rodenticide they can then be hunted by owls who then ingest it, sometimes even passing on to young.

“Rat poison is a serious risk to them,” Clegg said.

Part of the problem is those using rodenticides unnecessarily, but there are also certain food production facilities that use it as a mandatory requirement.

Habitat destruction is another threaet. Cutting down trees is negative as is monoculture farm crops.

Native plant pastures or land that isn’t heavily cropped are good, but unfortunately roadsides are also good. That creates another unavoidable risk of getting hit by vehicles as they hunt along the sides of roads.

As for the barn nests, the Gores want to help the population by supplying and installing nesting boxes for free to anyone who wants one.

“If anyone has an old barn or building, they think might work to house a barn owl, Gore Brothers will supply and install a nesting box,” Tony said. “Dr. Clegg would be consulted to determine whether the location would be an appropriate spot.”

Clegg said that while the population may be having a good year this year, the species is threatened and he likes the Gore Brothers’ idea to help get the word out.

“The biggest part that’s good about it is that it might tweak one more level of awareness because that’s what we need,” he said. “We need people to be aware these birds are here. Predators are necessary for the whole biome.”

Anyone looking to get a nesting box for a barn or an old building can contact the Gore Bros. at 604-824-1902 or email goreadmin@gorebrothers.ca.

• RELATED: Species at risk in Chilliwack cause for a little celebration


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Dick Clegg (left), who’s been protecting barn owls for about 20 years, shows Gore brothers (from left) Lee, Mark and Tony, what his owl nesting box looks like inside a barn on McDonald Road. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

The barn owl boxes have a divider to protect young owlets from predators. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress)

Just Posted

Stacked townhouse project gets approval despite traffic concerns

Neighbours say project will increase traffic and problems turning out of seniors’ complex

Fraser Valley pride celebration includes dance and festival

Events held in Abbotsford on July 19 and 20

Free summer concert series celebrates Fraser Valley indie music

Two more performances left in Jam in Jubilee in Abbotsford

Getting a new ‘Gig’ easier with new innovative program in Chilliwack

Program will take 12 young adults and help them prepare for their career path

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read