Owls are beautiful and mysterious raptors that are favorites for birders and non-birders alike. Unfortunately, they also face many threats and almost one-quarter of the world's owl species are considered officially endangered, threatened or vulnerable to severe population declines. On the plus side, there are many easy things birders can do to help owls and encourage their conservation.
01 of 09
Learn More Owl Species
Most people can name one or two owl species with ease, and birders can likely name quite a few more, but how many birders know there are more than 200 owl species in the world? Learning more of the species raises awareness about the incredible diversity and worldwide spread of the two owl families, Tytonidae and Strigidae, and encourages better conservation to keep each species thriving.
02 of 09
Read About Owls
Owls are a popular topic in both fiction and non-fiction, and even if birders can't get out into the field to see more owls, there are plenty of ways to add lifers to an owl reading list. Informational resources such as Owls of the World are ideal for intense birders, while insightful books such as Wesley the Owl share intimate experiences about these birds. For a bit of fun, try a mystery like The Boreal Owl Murder.
03 of 09
Turn Off the Lights
Most owls are either crepuscular or nocturnal, and they hunt better and feel more secure and comfortable in darkness. Turning off porch lights, landscape lighting and other outdoor illumination will help owls roam more freely. Similarly, decorative string and net lights should be minimized not only to reduce light levels, but to minimize the risk of hunting owls getting tangled in the wires.
04 of 09
Eliminate Pesticide Use
Pesticides and rodenticides are a grave threat to owls. As apex predators, these birds can accumulate lethal levels of chemicals in their blood as they consume contaminated prey – a process called biomagnification – leading to illness and death. Instead of relying on chemicals to control rodent populations, invite owls to hunt with appropriate habitat and they will quickly keep the prey in check.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Attract Backyard Owls
Different species prefer different types of habitats, but there are owls in nearly every area – including suburban and urban regions – so long as prey is abundant. Putting up barn owl boxes or other nesting boxes for owls and providing an owl-friendly yard are great steps to attract backyard owls, giving them a safe, inviting habitat to enjoy and providing birders with a magnificent yard bird to brag about.
06 of 09
Debunk Owl Superstitions
Owls have always been mysterious birds, and that mystery has given rise to many irrational and dangerous owl superstitions and prejudices. Understanding owl superstitions and working to offset the myths and legends surrounding these birds is a great way not only to introduce people to owls, but to be sure they have proper information about these raptors and learn to respect them, not fear them.
07 of 09
Go Owling Properly
Adding more owls to a life list is a great way to gain an even greater appreciation for these birds, but it is necessary to go owling in a safe, non-threatening way. Birders should be experienced with identifying birds at night and know how to identify owls properly when they go owling, so they can enjoy the experience without stressing the birds through too much contact or inappropriate behavior.
08 of 09
Adopt an Owl
Supporting owl rescues, rehabilitation and conservation projects through adopting or sponsoring an owl is an easy, fast way birders can help owls. Many different organizations offer owl adoptions for different budgets, and it is often possible to select a specific owl species or even an individual rescue, ambassador or banded bird to sponsor, giving the adopter an intimate connection to their owl adoptee.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Give Owl-Themed Gifts
There are many cute gifts for owl lovers, from novelty items like owl-shaped treats, toys and trinkets to serious birding options such as guided owling tours, research books or owl houses. Sharing a love of owls through thoughtful gifts helps raise awareness of these birds, and many gifts can have conservation messages or support conservation programs as well.