Sunday, November 22, 2015

Urban Conservation Project for Owls in the city of Americana, São Paolo state, Brazil

I had the great honour on a recent trip to be introduced to a grass-roots owl conservation project in Brazil. Gustavo Pinto, one of the lead community activists in this initiative, showed Norton Santos and myself the areas that had been set aside and some of the owls that inhabit them. Grass and shrub habitat on the outskirts of the city of Americana are inhabited by Short-eared Owls, Burrowing Owls, Striped Owls and Barn Owls. Some readers might be surprised to learn of owls in an urban context but this is quite common around the globe. In this case, this habitat was increasingly threatened by condominium developments and arson during the breeding season of the owls. Gustavo and others engaged the community in getting several parcels set aside (this took several years to achieve), putting up signs about the owls and their habitat, and in reporting arson and putting out fires where necessary. This project has now become a source of pride for the community and they are happy to pitch in to help the owls. Some community members even help monitor the breeding success of the Short-eared Owls. In addition to the simple conservation benefits, there is also a large community awareness benefit and education opportunities. This is a great example of some of the simple grass-roots initiatives around the world that benefit owls. I have placed six photos below:

  1.  My photo of a sign about Short-eared Owls (mentions status, threats and conservation measures)

  2.  My photo of a Short-eared Owl perched in one of the grassland areas (shows their preferred habitat in this area)

   3.  My photo of a Short-eared Owl flying over the same area (you can see some of the urban habitat in the background)

   4.  My photo of the Burrowing Owl we found with dark eyes and unusually dark plumage (this eye colouration is well known from the Florida population in North America but I had never seen this anywhere in South America before – see Gustavo’s earlier post)

 5.  My photo of two Burrowing Owls together, comparing the dark-eyed individual with a typical individual from the area. 

  6.  A photo of Gustavo’s stylish vehicle and its decals that he uses so well to promote the owls of the city of Americana (all Gustavo’s photos) and the three of us for good measure. 

People can make a difference!

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