The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists will begin banding barn owls this week during its annual checking and cleaning of barn owl nesting boxes.
Biologists in Delaware have captured previously banded birds from as far away as Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Md. Birds banded in Delaware also have been captured regularly in New Jersey. Barn owls are an asset to farms and other rural properties. A single nesting pair of owls with a brood of young can eat more than a thousand rats, mice and voles during one nesting season. They rarely feed on species that humans consider desirable, such as small rabbits or birds.
Barn owl nest sites should not be disturbed during courtship, incubation, and early hatchling stages, when the birds are likely to abandon their nests. Also, disturbance of nest sites during early fledgling stage will often cause young to leave the nest prematurely, before they have the capability to fly back.
Barn owls are protected by federal regulations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and by State of Delaware code protecting all non-game birds. They are not listed as endangered, but are considered a "species of greatest conservation need," identified in the Delaware Wildlife Action Plan.
For more information, call (302) 284-1077.