Date - May 20, 2021
7:00 pm

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Barred Owls Invade! A Generalist Predator Thrives in the Suburbs & the Pacific Northwest

Speaker: Rob Bierregaard

This is yet another virtual meeting on Zoom, so please register here and then look for an email containing the actual link to use so you can connect to the meeting on Thursday:
Brief Description:
For over a decade, my research team studied the thriving population of Barred Owls that live in the Charlotte, NC, suburbs and surrounding countryside. A remarkable 300 pairs of Barred Owls live within 10 miles of downtown Charlotte. My graduate students and I, along with a small flock of undergrads, followed as many as 25 pairs of owls each spring and summer. We tracked dozens of owls to measure their home ranges and the dispersal of young. We installed video cameras in nest boxes and recorded the delivery of over 1,600 prey items. I will discuss what we learned about how Barred Owls have done so well in suburbia and give a general overview of how the species is doing across North America, including the controversies surrounding the Barred Owl’s invasion of the range of the Northern Spotted Owl.

Happily, a handful of Barred Owl

Brief Biography:

Rob Bierregaard’s passion for the natural world has always focused on birds of prey. He began as an avid falconer (there is no other kind). His Ph.D. thesis investigated the importance of ecological competition in structuring raptor communities. After graduate school, he spent eight years in Amazonian Brazil, leading a large-scale study of the effects of habitat fragmentation on tropical rainforest ecosystems. After returning to the states, he taught Ornithology and Ecology at UNC-Charlotte for 18 years. 

Post-Brazil, Rob’s research focused on Ospreys and Barred Owls. During his time in Charlotte he led a 10-year study of Charlotte’s thriving suburban Barred Owl population. He is currently leading the team revising the Barred Owl account for Cornell’s Birds of the World project.

Rob has been studying Ospreys since 1971. He has coordinated the Osprey census on Martha’s Vineyard since 1998 and began satellite-tagging Ospreys in 2000. Since then he has followed the migration of 47 adult and 61 juveniles tagged at nests from South Carolina to the eastern tip of North America in St. Johns, Newfoundland.

Belle’s Journey, his first children’s book, illustrated by Kate Garchinsky, tells the story of a young Osprey’s first migration to South America and back. The book, released in May of 2018, was awarded one of two honorable mentions in the National Outdoor Book Awards’ Children’s division, was listed as an outstanding science trade book for 2019 by the National Science Teachers’ Association, and was the Bank Street College of Education’s Children’s Book Committee’s pick-of-the-month for November, 2018.

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