Rural System's

The Owls Group of Nature Folks


1. Work with The Owls Group.
2. Develop owl nesting areas and management areas.
3. Develop a bus turn-around site and trails for guests.
4. Develop a series of safe fire-side sites for late evening entertainment.
5. Develop a source of wood for the fires.
Giles photo, 1955, screech owl

Information and Diagnoses

The Owls Group
is a proposed for-profit enterprise relating to all aspects of people's great interests in owls. The enterprise is being designed and planned as part of Rural System and its Nature Folks. The organization sponsors "owl trips" as a primary activity but it has a diverse set of tactics all aimed at improved, comprehensive faunal resource and rural resource management with an emphasis on a single species.

There are 37 species or subspecies of owls in the Western U.S., 12 (some the same) in the Eastern U.S. Sixteen species breed regularly in the U.S. The spotted owl has been at the center of land use controversies for over a decade. Great interest in owls exists around the world; some are threatened, others are abundant and are important in ecosystems. Several occur in cities.

The potential activities, services, and products of The Owls Group are:

  1. Travel agent services for local field trips and tours
  2. Field trips (catered, hotel, trip, observation, education, and recreational one-night "events")
  3. Photo sales
  4. Photo opportunities
  5. Operates an owl cam as marketing dimension of Rural System
  6. Newsletter
  7. Research
  8. Bird Life-list building
  9. Owl-based tourism (to see the owls of the world with The Tours Group)
  10. Promotion of the night time world of nature
  11. Promoting inclusion of lunar forces in ecosystem considerations and studies
  12. Sale/rental of night-observation equipment
  13. Publications on owls and their ecology
  14. Publications on predator-prey relations
  15. Art sales (painting, sculpture, photographs)
  16. Wilderness/remote area camping expeditions with owls as a major goal
  17. Sale or rent of "calling" equipment. Web-page interactions for members with emphasis on owl observations and timing of local events (phenology)
  18. Food habit studies
  19. Interaction with the Wildland Knowledge Base
  20. Sale of screech-owl nesting boxes (see Products Group)
  21. Service (installation and maintenance) of owl boxes
  22. Sale of management plans for owls
  23. Foundation support and memorials (see Memorials)


An evening owl trip or event would include a meal for 30 clients gathered at a nearby restaurant and motel. After introductions and a dinner, the group would hear a brief talk and see slides or TV of owls, and afterwards board a bus. During the 20-minute bus drive, a staff member of The Owls Group describes the organization and its objectives and gives a wonderfully-crafted lecture on the great horned owl, barred owl, and screech owl. At Stop #1, all leave the bus, walk over a trail to a quiet spot and an electronic device is played and barred owls respond (usually). Questions are answered and further information is given about the owl. At another stop (now the forests are very dark) the group huddles in the quiet and other owls are "called up"- said by some to be the thrill of a lifetime.
There is still magic in campfires
The group moves to a campfire site, enjoys the fire, stories, refreshments, and a little country music. Some play new games with GlowOwl balls. All then board the comfortable bus for the trip back to the motel. Information on owl studies is provided on the return trip. Those wishing to do so may observe owl habitat and management activities on any daytime tour, often taken the day following the evening tour.

Owl Notes

An owl can hear sounds 10 times more faint than people can detect.
They have extra large ear openings with feathers that tend to funnel sound.
The ear feathers do not have barbules (hooks that zip feathers together to make a wind resistant cover).
Owls have a moveable flap of tissue around the ear, controlled by muscles. It protects the ear and funnels sound coming from behind the bird.
Asymmetrical ear openings allow the bird to pinpoint sound. The compact feathers around the eyes collect and funnel sound to the ears.
Owls are believed to see little color.
Their light sensitivity is 10 times that of people.

All activities includes sales of equipment (binoculars, listening devices, night lights, night vision) and/or their rentals, memberships, and contacts for future trips and other relations elsewhere in Nature Folks and Rural System.

The Owls Group is a new enterprise created and devoted to gaining maximum long-term human benefits from the owl and raptor resources of the world. It also seeks to make profit from such activity. Its initial emphasis is on owls of Central Appalachia. The raptors, the hawks, eagles, owls and vultures, are a significant part of the wildlife resource. The Owls Group is being developed due to a belief that these birds are not being managed adequately or successfully. Certainly, their potential as an international modern resource has not been achieved. To begin to meet perceived needs and to begin to improve resource use, The Owls Group was created.

Designed as a system, the general properties and concepts for development include:


  1. Maximize profits from an owl-based diverse raptor resource management system.
  2. Maximize research findings (conclusions) over a long period.
  3. Minimize the time from research "discovery" to application.
  4. Improve the status (abundance, distribution, community presence, and socioeconomic appreciation)of raptors and the raptor resource in the U.S.
  5. Increase knowledge of raptor management and predator foods and feeding.
  6. Develop a comprehensive computer model representing owl abundance and dynamics within an ecosystem, dynamic over 200 years.
  7. Advance predator-prey theory, especially its application.


The staff of the Owls Group seeks research grants to achieve some of the objectives and to support and allow achievement of the others. The funds gained are expected to pay some salaries and wages for those conducting the research. Research will be in response to requests for proposals when available, but the key pathways are those discovered by comprehensive models and sensitivity analyses. A Foundation will accept money, gifts, lands, services, and equipment all directed toward the goals. Named fellowships and named properties (e.g., the A.B.C. Memorial Raptor Management Area) will be sought and utilized to meet the objectives of the program.


We propose to develop a series of activities and projects such as:

See Global Owl Project (David H. Johnson. Executive Director, 6504 Carriage Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22310 USA ) web site and Festival of Owls

See www.TheOwlCam.Com and source ( )

Peromyscus, part of the owl forage base, were studied by Greenberg, C.H.(2002) Forest Ecol and Mgmt 164:57-66.) Mice studied before and after salvage logging. There were no differences in mouse abundance or physical condition of the mice before and.after. Activity differed. Traps were more successful when placed next to coarse woody debris than when set under brush or open ground. She hypothesized that wind-throw-created canopy gaps and associated microsites do not affect habitat use by Peromyscus at the landscape level. Relative abundance is influenced at the microsite by coarse woody debris.

Owl Group Notes - Giles, 12, 2014

Study responses to owl calls, i.e., types and frequencies, ultra- responses, separation of vocalization. Efficiencies in calling owls; Needed owl densities for effective watcher- or tourist- trips

Owl habitat needs: how to produce them exactly

Mouse management for foraging owls, for predation, for competition with fox, coyotes, etc.

Explore "maximum wildlife concept" of Scanlon and Giles

Other notes: 10-16-2016

Based on an owl study (Ecology 1993. 74(2):352-366)
female brood rearing” as a topic of managerial interest was seen as three action classes: staying (at the nest), hunting, and deserting behavior. The female strategy during brood rearing maximizes her reproductive success, i.e. “the weighted average of the expected probability of survival of her current offspring and her future reproduction. We use these concepts as we build knowledge within the Owls Group.

Owls Group
To be added to Rxx file
Develop website – work with Harrisonburg Rehab center. Gain “pet” owl(s)
GIS map of each VA owl (both seasons)
Develop wood carvings, paint (see calling cards), add to blog, seasonal presents, develop a 24-hour nest camera for public observation, owl “calling”? prey?
Plan – owls of the world travel plan
Hone contributions and site visit $ go to studies
Work on hair/bone/etc analysis aid
Display species pictures
Relate to diverse predation – have predation as an attractant
Walker’s mammals?
Consider nest-box openings and possible project
Display captor at zoo-public meetings
Sell a picture(s) unit for advertisers “wise old owl” – display put at lecture, seminar, conference – wise-owl etc. “I works” see?
Link to carvers (other artists)
Add “anyone with injured owl (highway hit, etc.) please call at once
Tech (student interns? Veterinary interns?)
“Adopt an Owl” program zoo-like program in RS (families fund for a year) check if legal.
A key concept remains: there must be a test of whether the owls of the world can be preserved and managed better under a profit-motivated, long-term entrepreneurial system than under the present disjointed practices. The assertion is that it can. The question will remain: was the success (or failure) due to the Owls Group management actions… or to the concept and design itself?
Literature Cited
Max T.A., R.A. Souter, and K.A. O’Halloran. 1990. Statistical estimators for monitoring spotted owls in Oregon and Washington in 1987. U.S.D.A. For. Serv. Pacific Northwest Research Station, Research Paper PNW-RP-420, Portland, OR, 13 pp.
Mindell, D.P. 1978. Habitat use by red-tailed hawks in surface mined areas. M.S. Thesis, West Virginia University, Morgantown, 85 pp.
Whitmore, R.C. and G.A. Hall. 1978. The response of passerine species to a new resource: reclaimed surface mines in West Virginia. Amer. Birds 32(1):6-9.
Whitmore, R.C. 1980. Reclaimed surface mines as avian habitat islands in the eastern forest. Amer. Birds 34(1):13-14.
See owls in Capper
Note made 4-4-2013

Perhaps you will share ideas with Rural System staff about some of the topics above. The review and comments of Casey Setash (2011) were appreciated.

Revisions: July 2, 2005; May, 2008; November 29, 2009; April 14, 2011;4-20-13, 12-11-2014