As part of conservation and monitoring work being completed at a Nature Conservancy preserve in the spring of 2012, Great Gray Owls were observed but no nesting sites could be found by Conservancy or Department of Fish and Game staff. While there have been individual sightings in the past, this was the first confirmed detection of a breeding pair of Great Gray Owls in Sierra County. Great Gray Owls do not build their own nests and typically use other birds’ nests, treetop depressions or artificial platforms.
The Department of Fish and Game felt such a nest construction might very well be suitable for an Eagle Scout project and contacted a local Boy Scout representative. As it turned out, the representative’s son was looking for a project and became very interested in building the platforms and learning the importance of providing nest structures and preserving habitat for this state endangered owl.
“I couldn’t be happier about how this project came to be” noted Chris Stermer, Biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. “Three organizations working together to establish nesting habitat for this beautiful raptor in the Northern Sierra Nevada. You can’t beat that.”
With construction diagrams and oversight provided by the Department and materials provided by The Nature Conservancy, the Boy Scout and his fellow troop members completed construction of the nesting platforms in the fall of 2012. Soon thereafter, again with the help of the Boy Scouts, a professional tree climber hired by the Department of Fish and Game installed these nesting platforms in the areas where Great Gray Owls were originally spotted.
"We are all looking forward to discovering whether the owls use the nest structures next season…we built it, hopefully now they will come” said Lorna Dobrovolny, Biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game.
Steven Patti, the aspiring Eagle Scout, shared that he “was privileged to work on a project that exemplifies one of Scouting’s key values: nature preservation. I hope that the Scouts and The Nature Conservancy will continue to work together towards this worthwhile goal.”
About the California Depart of Fish and Game:
The Department of Fish and Game maintains native fish, wildlife, plant species and natural communities for their intrinsic and ecological value and their benefits to people. This includes habitat protection and maintenance in a sufficient amount and quality to ensure the survival of all species and natural communities. The department is also responsible for the diversified use of fish and wildlife including recreational, commercial, scientific and educational uses.
About the Nature Conservancy:
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends. (www.nature.org)
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.