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Local Audubon Society to present ‘Barn Owl Hospitality’ program

The East Ozarks Audubon Society (EOAS) will be presenting a free program on “Barn Owl Hospitality” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Farmington Public Library, 101 N. A St.

A free program on “Barn Owl Hospitality” offered by the East Ozarks Audubon Society will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Farmington Public Library, 101 N. A St. Open to the public, the program will be preceded by a social time with refreshments at 6:30 p.m. (Missouri Department of Conservation)

A social time with refreshments begins at 6:30 p.m.

“James and Jean Priday have been fledging barn owls in their Fredericktown barn for years,” said EOAS member Sue Hagan. “They will be presenting an informative program about their efforts and successes, serving as hosts for young chicks in a program sponsored by the World Bird Sanctuary.”

According to Hagan, barn owls have suffered declines, especially in the Midwest, due to habitat loss and pesticide poisoning. They are considered rare in Missouri.

“Fewer farm fields, a reduction in old trees, and the nature of modern barns have reduced the places where barn owls can successfully hunt and raise their chicks,” Hagan said. “But an even greater impact has been the widespread use of rodent poisons. Since barn owls eat an average of 2,000 mice a year, they are vulnerable to secondary poisoning.”

The World Bird Sanctuary has been breeding and releasing American barn owls in Missouri since 1981.

“They rely on hosts like the Pridays to feed and care for fledglings until the chicks can be released,” Hagan explained. “Potential hosts are selected for having a suitable barn and for willingness to commit to all the work needed to feed and protect the young chicks. Because of the success of the hacking program, barn owls are no longer endangered in Missouri — but it is a fortunate birder who gets to see one in the wild.

“This program will be an opportunity to meet a local couple who have been volunteering their time and labor to help give barn Owls a boost. Though the Pridays don’t consider themselves ‘birders,’ they have done much to help one particular species of bird trying to regain a perch in a challenging world.”

The program is open to the public.

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