These unbelievably beautiful creatures are coming back!

The population of burrowing owls has been declining in areas due to a number of factors, including the use of pesticides, and automobile collisions. They're known as "howdy birds" for the way they make an entrance into prairie dog tunnels.

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Multiple Oregon agencies are working to restore the Burrowing Owl population.

Back in 2008, Don Gillis, the Natural Resource Manager at the Umatilla Chemical Depot noticed the owl population was declining in the nesting areas at Camp Umatilla. Don knew that if the owl population continued to decline, there would be issues to the ecosystem.

Enter Mike Greg of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

The two discussed the situation at Camp Umatilla, and Mike turned Don onto a man in Virginia who is an expert in owl conservation.

Enter David H. "DJ" Johnson is the Director of the Global Owl Project.

There were 6 pairs of the awesome owls. David and Don came up with a plan to put in fake nesting tunnels to replace the badger tunnels. After they installed one, a male burrowing owl was standing watch. When the two left, the owl immediately took over the nest.

David H. "DJ" Johnson
David H. "DJ" Johnson
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Over the years, the two have incorporated a total of 96 nesting tunnels and all have been taken over by the owls, except for one. When spring arrives, they trap the owls and weigh and monitor the owl, as well as count eggs, and check the nest.

They stay on site until the eggs hatch.

David H. "DJ" Johnson
David H. "DJ" Johnson
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When the hatchlings are 6 weeks old, they are banded. Tiny satellite transmitters are attached for observation. The males usually go north into Washington, while the females head south. They say that some of the females travel as far as Mexico.

The Burrowing Owls are now thriving!

David H. "DJ" Johnson
David H. "DJ" Johnson
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I'd say this project has been successful. God willing, the Burrowing Owls will continue to fly high, thanks to the Global Owl Project.

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