Northern Saw-whet Owl Survey

As a charismatic representative of the high elevations within the central and southern Appalachian Mountains, the Northern Saw-whet Owl (NSWO) is a perfect ambassador to highlight the unique ecology of southwest Virginia’s Blue Ridge. With little known about the species’ breeding ecology within Virginia and as a Tier 1 Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan, the NSWO warrants additional investigation. The large tracts of intact northern hardwood and spruce / fir habitat on the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area are the obvious location within southwest Virginia for conducting NSWO monitoring. In the spring of 2017, BRDC started the initial phases of monitoring local saw-whet owl breeding activities in the high country of southwest Virginia. By utilizing a widely accepted broadcast playback protocol, the 2017 survey resulted in three individual responses from saw-whet owls on Whitetop Mountain and Mount Rogers. With these initial results, BRDC will continue the effort to more precisely document breeding territories on these two mountains.

One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?
— Rachel Carson