The World Owl Trust (WOT) emphasizes global owl conservation with initiatives worldwide to preserve these majestic birds of prey, but is joining this organization right for every owl lover? Learning more about the WOT can help every birder decide if membership is right for them.
The World Owl Trust was founded on January 1, 1973 as the British Owl Breeding and Release Scheme (BOBARS) with an emphasis on helping owls in the United Kingdom, but it quickly became apparent that owls worldwide were in need of assistance. During the summer of 1993, the organization was renamed the World Owl Trust. Today, the organization is a registered charity that works tirelessly for owl conservation, with support not only from ornithologists and owl researchers, but from owl lovers of all types around the world.
What the WOT Does Today
The World Owl Trust uses many techniques to foster greater awareness of the threats facing owls and how to protect and preserve these birds. Its tactics include…
- Habitat Conservation: Owls cannot survive if they do not have safe, productive habitat that meets their needs for food, water, shelter and nesting sites. The WOT helps arrange habitat preservation, focusing strongly on endangered owl species or owls with limited ranges that need the most help securing adequate territory. The WOT is also available to help assess habitat qualities in conjunction with other organizations or conservation groups.
- Partnerships: The WOT works with a wide range of different organizations and businesses to coordinate joint projects to benefit owls. Different projects are underway worldwide, and the World Owl Trust has helped organize and administrate projects in Brazil, England, Kenya, Israel, Nepal, the Philippines and other nations.
- Education: Not only does the WOT website include extensive information on owls, but the group also will work to provide information, books and articles to interested groups to foster better owl awareness. Different topics include the acuity of owls' eyesight, variations in plumages, analyzing pellets to determine owl diets and feeding patterns and more.
- Research: The World Owl Trust helps facilitate research to enhance global knowledge about owls, not only through its partnerships and active projects, but also by publishing papers about owls. That information is freely shared and available to anyone interested in learning more about owls, including wildlife biologists, ornithologists and other avifauna experts, as well as birders or owl lovers in general.
- Legislation: The WOT offers expert advice and insights into relevant legislation and public policies that may impact owls. That advice is freely available not only to legislators and policy leaders, but also to the public and interested voters, allowing everyone to make an appropriate, educated choice for laws and guidelines that will help safeguard owls and other wildlife.
- Captive Breeding: In conjunction with local zoos, aviaries and similar facilities, the WOT supports captive bird breeding programs with the intent of increasing owl populations and releasing birds back into the wild to create naturally breeding populations. To then support those natural populations, the WOT organizes the installation of appropriate nesting boxes so owls have safe, suitable nesting sites.
- World Owl Centre Aviary: The World Owl Trust has the largest collection of captive owls in the world, representing more than 40 species, and the aviary is open to the public, allowing personal exposure to owls that will generate even more interest and appreciation for these birds. NOTE: The World Owl Centre was formerly located in Cumbria and is in the process of relocating to the West Midlands; until the relocation is complete, the captive birds are on exhibit in a number of local United Kingdom locations rather than one centralized aviary.
- Owl Adoptions: To support their work and foster even more owl appreciation, the WOT arranges a wide range of symbolic owl adoptions. Adopters receive their name on a plaque in the individual owl's aviary, as well as a photo of the bird, a key ring, an adoption certificate and the intimate knowledge that they have helped these noble birds. More than 40 owl species are available for adoption, and gift adoptions are also available.
- Online Store: Another way the WOT raises funds is through the online store stocked with owl-themed merchandise. Shoppers can choose from informational owl DVDs, plus owls, original artwork, books and other gift items. All purchases go to help support the organization's work.
Joining the World Owl Trust
Membership in the World Owl Trust is available to anyone worldwide. Single, family and lifetime memberships are available, with costs ranging from £18-240 (approximately $28-363 USD). Members receive three newsletters per year, as well as a membership badge and card. Additional donations are also accepted and go to help support the WOT's mission and projects.
For more information or to join the World Owl Trust, visit Owls.org.
Photo – Barn Owl © Simon Lewis