Tyto furcata

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Scientific Name
Tyto furcata
Common Name
American Barn Owl
Taxa Group
Move Mode

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  • Data package
    Data from: Habitat selection by a predator of rodent pests is resilient to wildfire in a vineyard agroecosystem
    (2021-12-08) Huysman, Allison E.; Castañeda, Xerónimo A.; Johnson, Matthew D.
    Conservation of uncultivated habitats can increase the potential for ecosystem services in agroecosystems, but these lands are also susceptible to wildfires in the arid western United States. In Napa Valley, California, abundant rodent pests and an interest in integrated pest management have led wine producers to use nest boxes to attract Barn Owls (Tyto furcata) to winegrape vineyards. The viability of this practice as a method to control rodent pests depends heavily on the amount of hunting effort that Barn Owls expend in vineyards, which is known to be influenced by the amount of uncultivated land cover types surrounding the nest box. Wildfires burned nearly 60,000 ha of mainly urban and uncultivated lands surrounding Napa Valley in 2017, altering Barn Owl habitats. We compared GPS tracking data from 32 Barn Owls nesting in 24 individual nest boxes before and after the fires to analyze their hunting habitat selection. Owls with burned areas available to them after the fires had home ranges that shifted towards the fires, but selection was not strongly associated with burned areas. Though there was some spatial use of burned areas, selection of land cover types was similar for birds before and after the fires and in burned and unburned areas. The strongest selection was for areas closest to the nest box and most recorded locations were in grassland, though selection indicated that owls used land cover types in proportion to their availability. Overall, habitat selection was resilient to changes caused by wildfires. These results are important for farmers who use nest boxes as a means of rodent control, which may be affected after dramatic disturbance events, especially as wildfires increase in the western United States.