The Southeastern Raptor Center is collaborating with the City of Auburn Parks and Recreation Department to release more owls. This public release involves Barn Owls and takes place September 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Creek Park.
“These Barn Owls came from Albany, Ga., and were healthy fledglings that were mistaken for orphans,” said Liz Crandall, raptor rehabilitation specialist with the Southeastern Raptor Center. The public is invited to see these beautiful birds as they are released into the wild.
Although one of the most widely distributed species of owls, the Raptor Center does not see the Barn Owl as frequently as other common owl species. The Barn Owl is known by many other names which may refer to the appearance, call, habitat, or eerie silent flight: White Owl, Ghost Owl, Barnyard Owl, Night Owl, or Rat Owl.
Prior to their release Crandall will talk about not removing young, healthy wildlife, and a history of the birds being released. Two red-tailed hawks, used for educational purposes, will also be on hand.
The Barn Owl is a medium-sized owl with a white or mostly white underside. It feeds primarily on small vertebrates, and the vast majority of its food consists of small rodents. “This species is a benefit to us since their diet is 90-94% rodents,” said Crandall.
For farmers Barn Owls can be economically valuable wildlife. A nesting pair of Barn Owls can catch and eat up to 3,000 rodents in a year. Rodents can cause millions of dollars in damage per year to crops such as sugar cane, rice, and vegetables. Barn Owls can be more effective than rat baits and poisons in controlling rodent population.
A mission of the Southeastern Raptor Center is to rehabilitate injured, ill, or orphaned birds of prey. Annually the center takes in between 200 and 275 birds of prey from across the Southeast. Birds are generally brought by members of the public, a network of southeastern rehabilitators and educational facilities, and state and federal agencies.
The Southeastern Raptor Center is part of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Auburn Parks and Recreation provides the community with quality recreational facilities and activities. For more information on the August 19 owl release, call 334-844-3698 or 334-501-2936. Duck Samford Park is located at 333 Airport Road.