Long-eared Owls have been in decline in Boulder County, Colorado, for several years. In 2015, members of CARRi decided to embark on a project to try and increase the the numbers of these owls by placing nest structures in adequate habitat for the species.
Two styles of nest structures were chosen; a nest box with an open face and a basket. Both were placed in and around Longmont, Colorado and Estes Park, Colorado. Near Longmont, the structures were placed in areas with large junipers that were on the edges of large open fields, where the owls would be able to hunt for voles. The structures placed in and around Estes Park, Colorado were in large stands of mixed conifers on the edge of open meadows. .
We placed almost 30 structures and found that the owls seem to prefer the baskets to the boxes. However, it is only the first season.
Below are some photos of the baskets, boxes and the owls as well as the habitat that the owls prefer. The first photo is of a female owl on it's basket. The second photo is of the unhatched eggs, the third is on a two day old owlet and so on.
On June 22nd, 2016, I arrived members of CARRi arrived to band the nestling Long-eared Owls and found them all on the ground together (picture below). The birds were healthy; and were banded and placed back in their basket. How they got out of the basket onto the ground is a unknown.
In 2017, a female Long-eared Owl was seen perched on the same basket that a pair had chosen in 2016. So hopefully they will nest in that basket again this year.