Wisconsin DNR reports first documented barn owl nest in over 20 years

Rare barn owl nest located in Wisconsin for the first time in more than 20 years.
Rare barn owl nest located in Wisconsin for the first time in more than 20 years.(Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/Photo Credit: Karla Bloem)
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 9:09 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For the first time in more than two decades, a rare barn owl nest has been documented in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that the nest was spotted September in a La Crosse resident’s backyard. Someone reported that a young owl fell out of a dead tree.

Executive Director of the International Owl Center in Minnesota, Karla Bloem, visited the site and put a camera into the tree. Inside, she found a pair of barn owls and three owlets. Officials returned the young owl who fell out of the tree to the nest in early October, once he was in healthy enough.

The DNR noted that while there has been an uptick in barn owl sightings in Wisconsin and in the Upper Midwest in general, there has not been a confirmed nest in more than 20 years.

“This is an exciting development for Wisconsin as this nest could have easily gone undetected,” said DNR Conservation Biologist and Bird Monitoring Coordinator Ryan Brady. ”Kudos to the staff at Coulee Region Humane, Karla from the International Owl Center for diligent follow-up and the homeowners who provided a habitat to foster this historic nest!”

Brady explained that 99% of the barn owl reports they get are actually young great horned owls.

The DNR stated that barn owls can be identified by their white, heart-shaped face. It also lacks ear tufts seen in other familiar owls. Their head, back and upper wings will be a mix of brownish-yellow and gray, with a white face, body and underwings.

Ban owls are also known for their high-pitched scream, the DNR added.

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