A new home in the Brydon Lagoon area of Langley is expected to be in high demand – an owl’s house, that is. (Lilianne Fuller/Special to Black Press)

Langley’s barn owls given new, safe roosts for Christmas

Langley Field Naturalists installed the last of five barn owl nesting boxes ahead of the holidays.

A community project undertaken by the Langley Field Naturalists is now complete.

In 2018, the environmental group committed to installing five free standing barn owl nesting boxes in various public places in Langley. The project, led by Ryan Usenik, was recently completed with the last nesting box being placed at Brydon Lagoon just ahead of Christmas.

The first four boxes were located earlier in the year at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum, Jackman Wetlands, Arbour Ribbon Trail, and Redwoods Golf Course.

“The nesting boxes are designed to provide a safe place from predators for barn owls” to roost, as well as provide a safe place to lay their eggs and raise their young, Usenik said. “This results in more young fledglings, leading to sustainability of the species.”

The nesting boxes are also meant to compensate for the loss of riparian (streamside) habitat, a factor important to the natural nesting and roosting habitat for barn owls, he elaborated.

Langley, like all municipalities in the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver area, is experiencing habitat loss due to urban development.

To help the species survive, it’s important to provide barn owls with alternate nesting sites, Usenik said.

But the disappearance of older barns and silos – which were conducive for barn owl nesting – and the loss of old-growth forests, leave barn owls (like all cavity nesters) means they’re losing their natural habitat, said Usenik.

The continuing loss of open fields to residential and greenhouse development are also factors, he added.

“Properly designed and installed nesting boxes mean cavity nesters can continue to live and survive in the Langleys.”

“The installation and monitoring of these boxes will enable us to assess the abundance and nesting success of this threatened species,” said Sofi Hindmarch, a wildlife biologist with the Fraser Valley Conservancy.

Langley Field Naturalists was looking for a community project to benefit nature and make the general public aware of the need for assistance. Because of this, the nesting boxes have been placed in public areas.

“Barn owls are nocturnal, so very few people get to see them during the day,” explained Usenik.

But Langley Field Naturalists president Lisa Dreves said the installation of properly designed nesting boxes in public areas will draw attention to the need and benefit of assisting species like barn owls.

For more information about the nesting boxes or if you are interested in having one on your property, contact Ryan Usenik at 604-530-3257 or Gareth Pugh at 604-649-1027. Or email: langleyfieldnaturalists@shaw.ca

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