Crisfield Barn Owl rescued, new Janes Island habitat created

A group of barn owls nesting on the balcony of a vacation condo in Crisfield led park rangers to create new habitat for this declining owl species.

Last spring, an owner discovered that a few owls had nested on his balcony, along with at least three fluffy owls. Most of the owls took flight, but an injured bird had to be rescued. That’s where Christina Carlson, the new director of neighboring Janes Island State Park, stepped in. She had experience with raptors and helped bring the injured owl to a wildlife rescue.

The presence of the owl family in a place populated by humans prompted Ranger Carlson and other rangers to work on giving the Barn Owls a better place to nest. The barn owl population has declined dramatically in Maryland, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

(Left to Right): Ranger Mark Herring, Janes Island State Park; Ranger Melissa Boyle Acuti, Chief Interpretation, Maryland Park Service; Ranger Brent Sullivan, assistant park manager at Janes Island State Park. Photo: Maryland DNR

They made a plan to build three nesting boxes on Janes Island. One of Janes Island State Park’s trained volunteers, camp host David Clark, built the boxes to specifications provided by Chris Snow, stewardship coordinator for DNR’s Chesapeake and Coastal Service. They have been installed in suitable places outside of the wilderness.

“If they find owls on the abandoned balconies of five- or six-story condos…” Carlson recounts Bay Bulletin.

Now the real test is whether any interested barn owls will settle in the nesting boxes in the spring. “If they come back to nest in the spring, that will be the real success story. That they will use them, ”says Carlson.

Snow of MNR warns that it may take about a year for owls to discover the nesting boxes, but he hopes they can harbor nesting barn owls in a year or two.

Carlson says the birdhouse effort has been successful. “As a park warden, it was a strong moment to receive this call and to make it a project. It’s a great day’s work.

For more information on volunteering or participating in conservation projects at Janes Island State Park, call the park at 410-968-1565 or email Volunteer Coordinator Ranger Mark Herring at [email protected]

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