Two organizations are continuing their partnership to research the activity of great horned owls in Saskatchewan.
In the fall of 2021, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) and the University of Regina started gathering sightings of the owls from residents in the province through an online form.
While most of Saskatchewan has been covered by residents, there are gaps with little to no reports in the Leader area as well as northeast Regina.
Ryan Fisher, the curator of vertebrate zoology at the RSM, said they're not worried about the population numbers, but are studying the birds for a different reason.
“When you look at these particular owls compared to many of the other owls in the province and a lot of other wildlife in the province, they actually do seem to do extremely well in human modified landscapes,” Fisher said. “We're really, really interested in terms of what features of the landscape have allowed these owls to exploit new habitats in the province and be so successful here.”
Great horned owls will nest in planted trees or shelterbelts around farmyards, roosting in old buildings, and hunting from power poles or fence lines.
The species is thriving in Saskatchewan, being one of the province’s most common owls.
“There are a couple of other citizen science-based projects that have been looking at bird trends throughout North America since about 1960 or 1970,” Fisher said. "That information is saying that the owls are actually doing pretty well here. They're stable or even increasing in population since 1970.”
He said their citizen science project has had an extremely successful year, gathering over 500 owl observations from residents in almost 300 townships through their online forms.
The project is set to continue for another year, and the RSM and U of R, are asking folks around Leader to keep their eyes peeled, and continue submitting sightings and observations.
"We provide some information on the [Royal Saskatchewan Museum] website and the form for folks to help distinguish great horned owls from other owls in the province," Fisher said. "There really aren't a lot of other owls that great horned owls can be confused with, so we're pretty confident that if people see an owl it's probably a great horned owl."
Folks can submit sightings to the online form here.