Honors English IV
30 September 2012
Major Effects on Declining Owl Populations
Many animals around the world are struggling to survive. Many of these struggles come from human interactions. Owls are one of those animals. They are rarely seen by humans but things that humans need to survive affect them in many ways. Three major effects on declining owl populations are loss of habitat, pollution, and hunting. Background
There are about 205 different species of owls placed into distinct groups, barn owls and true owls (Klappenbach 1). Owls have a range of size from sparrow to the size of an eagle and are known for their talons, feathers being soft, and their flying being very silent (Cholewiak 1). Many species are able to hunt in the middle of the night and they can due to adaptations of their feathers (Cholewiak 1). Owls like to take advantage of what is provided to them so they tend to not build their own nests so they use the holes in trees or take the nest of bird that have already built their own. Some of them take to the ground for their nests and the burrowing owl takes burrows that other animals have made, like prairie dogs (Cholewiak 1).
Owls have been present in the history of many different countries for many years. "They have held a variety of symbolic roles in culture and have represented misfortune, death, prosperity, and wisdom (Klappenbach 1)." People in Europe believed that if an owl that is dead or just the owl's wings were nailed up, they could keep away dangers like pestilence, lightning, and hail (Hilton 1). Cave paintings have been a way of recording ancient owl sightings and folklore. France has cave paintings that show owls and can be traced back all the way to 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, and hieroglyphics of owls appear in Egypt (Klappenbach 1). Not many animals have been found in cave paintings from prehistoric times, but owls have (Owls Mythology 1). The United States has their own owl mythology like many other countries in the world. Our folklore claims that if an owl hoot is heard, the person must hoot back, or they have to take off a clothing article and wear it inside-out (Lewis 1). Many tribes in America believe that owls predicted deaths, and that they also carry souls of the dead from the world of the living to the world of the dead (Hilton 1). Loss of Habitat
Many different owl species are losing their habitats due to destruction caused by logging and human recreation. The northern spotted owl's population is lowered by 3% every single year due to logging. This started in the 1980s throughout the states of Oregon and Washington. The logging destruction has decreased but the owls are still endangered (Stokstad 1). Different types of logging determine how fast the trees will be removed from any certain area. Shelterwood logging is when the older trees are removes but they aren’t all taken as the same time so owls have the ability to settle into the area of fewer trees (Benjamin 1). Even though logging is detrimental, people are finding a way to bypass the rules against logging in the areas that owls reside in. Logging companies as well as people who own their own land were informed of ways they will be able to log on their property which also serve as critical habitats (Stokstad 1). The FWS proposed some ideas to help the northern spotted owl such as setting aside more protected environments, logging in order to decrease the chances of forest fires, and to shoot an owl that is causing their population to decrease (Stokstad 1).
Recreational activities including hiking in Utah close to the bottoms of canyons have the ability to affect the Mexican Spotted Owl because great hiking seasons overlap the breeding schedule of these owls (Hikers 1). Hiking around nesting female owls affects the owlets because less time is being provided to the mother to do feedings and maintenance. They are unable to tend to the young and preen, cleaning themselves of...