Prince Edward Island Nocturnal Owl Survey - Bird Studies Canada

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Guide for Volunteers
Revised February 2007
Bird Studies Canada - Atlantic Region
P.O. Box 6227
Sackville, NB
E4L 1G6
Tel: (506) 364-5047; Fax: (506) 364-5062
1. WHY A PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND NOCTURNAL OWL SURVEY? .................................. 1
2. GENERAL SURVEY METHODOLOGY..................................................................................... 2
3. GETTING READY .........................................................................................................................2
Your assigned route .........................................................................................................................3
4. SURVEY MATERIALS................................................................................................................. 4
Broadcast Equipment ...................................................................................................................... 4
5. DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS...................................................................................................... 5
When to Survey Your Route.......................................................................................................... 5
How to Survey Your Route............................................................................................................. 6
How to Complete the Survey Form and Data Form ...................................................................... 7
Sample Data Form ............................................................................................................ 11
Sample Stop Description Form..........................................................................................12
Rare Owls.......................................................................................................................................13
Returning the Completed Forms................................................................................................... 13
6. APPENDIX A (Identification of Owl Calls) ..................................................................................14
7. APPENDIX B (Information on PEI Owls) .....................................................................................16
Acknowledgements: Bird Studies Canada receives funding and/or in-kind support for this project from
the Prince Edward Island Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry, the TD Friends of the
Environment Foundation, and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Cover photo of Northern Saw-whet Owl
by Gordon Belyea. Boreal Owl drawing by Ron Ridout. This survey would not be possible without the
help of many dedicated volunteers. Thank you!
Bird Studies Canada (BSC) and the Prince Edward Island Department of
Environment, Energy and Forestry (PEIEEF)welcome you to the Price
Edward Island Nocturnal Owl Survey!
Thanks for committing your time to the survey.
Please read this instruction booklet carefully. The survey protocol is based on a similar long-term survey
in Ontario. We have decided to adopt the Ontario protocol in both PEI and NB, but have made changes as
necessary to reflect the needs of the region. The PEI protocol also follows the Guidelines for Nocturnal Owl
Monitoring in North America, published by the Beaverhill Bird Observatory and Bird Studies Canada, and
available online at The survey is meant to be
an annual event and will continue as long as possible.
Owls are excellent indicators of environmental health, as they are high on the food chain and are thus
vulnerable to many environmental disturbances such as toxic chemicals and habitat loss. Some owl species
have specialized habitat requirements, such as the Barred Owl, which depends upon cavities in large trees
(mostly hardwood) for nesting. The Barred Owl is therefore susceptible to changes in abundance of large
cavity trees as a result of forest management activities. Monitoring the Barred Owl is consequently of
considerable importance to wildlife and forest managers and conservationists as a means of assessing long
term forest health.
To this end, Bird Studies Canada and the PEIEEF are working together to manage the PEI Nocturnal Owl
Survey. Monitoring owls is not an easy task. They are secretive, primarily nocturnal and roost in concealed
locations during the day. Consequently, PEI’s owl populations are not adequately monitored through
existing monitoring programs (e.g. Breeding Bird Survey, Christmas Bird Counts). Playback of recorded
songs is used to census a variety of bird species, and is particularly useful for owls (especially Barred Owls).
Due to their territorial behaviour, songs broadcast within an owl's territory may elicit a vocal or visual
response by the resident owl in an attempt to defend its territory against an intruder.
In Canada, volunteer owl surveys have been established in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan,
British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia. Bird
Studies Canada coordinates the owl surveys in Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, mainland Nova
Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador and Prince Edward Island, and has been heavily involved in the
development of the North American guidelines.
The goals of the PEI Nocturnal Owl Survey are:
1. To estimate population trends of owls (especially Barred Owls) over at least a 10-year period;
2. To gather location information on rare or little-known owl species (especially Boreal and Long-eared
owls) in Atlantic Canada; and
3. To involve volunteer birders from across the region in wildlife monitoring.
The PEI playback protocol consists of Boreal and Barred Owl calls interspersed with silent listening periods.
Northern Saw-whet Owls will respond to the calls of Boreal Owls, and in fact will likely be detected in
much higher numbers than Boreal Owls in PEI. All other owl species that are encountered will also be
monitored. These include Great Horned, Long-eared, and Short-eared owls. You can expect to encounter
Great Horned, Northern Saw-whet and Barred owls most often on your survey. See Appendix B for more
information on PEI’s owls.
It's simple! A team of two (or more) volunteers drives a pre-determined, randomly chosen route, stopping at
10 fixed intervals every 2 km along the road. At each stop, volunteers play a CD with calls of Boreal and
Barred owls alternating with timed listening periods. Volunteers identify and record all owls heard or seen
during each listening period.
Surveys begin one half hour after sunset and take approximately 3 hours to complete (not including travel
time to and from the survey route). Surveyors are asked to run each route once, anytime in the designed
survey period (see letter accompanying survey kit, or data sheets, for dates). We do, however, encourage
you to run your route within the first two weeks of the survey period to avoid problems with frogs
(e.g. loud choruses drowning out owl calls) and/or spring runoff or melt water problems.
It is important that the same volunteer survey the same route from year to year as much as possible.
Before you can get started on your owl survey, you need to:
1. Read these instructions and become familiar with the methods and data forms.
2. Learn your owls! Listen to the training CD to be sure you can identify any owl calls you might hear.
Go out in your local neighbourhood in the evening to listen for owls and practice your ID skills (but
try to avoid using playback unnecessarily; see Cautionary Note on p. 13). Go owling with an
experienced birder who can teach you the different calls you might hear on your route. Try to be as
familiar as possible with the calls of the three most commonly encountered species: Barred, Great
Horned, and Saw-whet owls. The training CD also contains calls of two other nocturnal birds you
might encounter (Common Snipe and American Woodcock) which are monitored using the survey
as well as two species of frogs that begin calling first in the spring (Spring Peeper and Wood Frog).
3. Scout your assigned route during daylight hours. If you wish, distribute flyers to local residents to let
them know that you’ll be conducting the survey near their homes in the coming weeks. Some local
residents are puzzled by the owl sounds which often make their dogs bark.
4. If you are using your own CD player, check to be sure that it is working and that it is loud enough by
carrying out the test outlined in the box on page 5. If you do not own a CD player, call Rosemary
Curley (902-368-4807) to see if you can borrow one. Reserve the CD player for 1-3 nights during
the time period when you think you'll be surveying your route.
Your assigned route
Your kit includes a map of your survey route. All survey routes were chosen randomly using a map of all
roads that should be driveable in April. Bird Studies Canada’s National Council, consisting of leading
ornithologists from across the country, is promoting random route selection for any new owl surveys being
developed in Canada, as this is the best way to achieve statistically sound results. We're hoping to make the
Atlantic Nocturnal Owl Surveys the first Canadian owl surveys to use random route selection successfully!
It will take some patience and some help from you, but we believe it can be done.
If you have received a new route this year, you will need to scout your route before running it. We realize
that some routes are remote and a scouting expedition prior to the survey night may not be possible.
However, if you cannot scout your route, the following information still applies, as you will be required to
fill out the stop description form the same night as you conduct the survey.
Please drive the route and map out your stops by filling out the stop description form. Follow the sample
form on page 13. Each route consists of 10 stops spaced 2 km apart. At the start of your route (Stop #1), set
your trip odometre to zero. At each stop, note the odometre reading and a general description of the stop
(e.g. “just after big curve, next to speed limit sign”, or “100 m past driveway of house #365”) and the habitat
(e.g. “open fields on right, coniferous forest on left”). Make sure your description of the starting point (Stop
#1) is particularly clear. Try and pick a starting location that is easy to re-locate such as a road junction or
bridge (or note the driving distance from a point that is recognizable). Clearly describe the starting point on
your stop description form. It is also a good idea to mark the starting point with flagging tape or a reflector.
If you own or can borrow a Geographic Positioning System (GPS), we strongly recommend that you take it
with you on your scouting expedition and actual survey. At a minimum, we would like to know the position
of the first and last stops on your route but would prefer that positions for each stop are recorded. We would
prefer that all positions are reported using the NAD83 reference system; please indicate if your GPS uses a
different system (e.g. NAD27). Coordinates should be recorded in degree decimal format (e.g. 45.56783° N,
67.10332° S). If the GPS you are using is not set to give coordinates in this format see your unit’s manual to
change the display settings.
Along each route, stops should be located every 2 km as much as possible. However, stops should be
moved if they are dangerous (e.g. on a curve) or too noisy (e.g. near a house with a loud dog, beside a loud
river or creek, etc.). Also, if a stop falls in an open area (e.g. an agricultural field, or in the middle of a
town), please move it to the nearest available forested location. Forest on only one side of the road is fine;
you will simply direct your playback to that side of the road. If you need to adjust the station spacing, please
ensure that the stations are at least 2 km apart; you may lengthen the distance between stops, but please do
not shorten it.
Also, please keep in mind the following general requirements:
1. The route should pass through mostly-forested habitat. If the route is on a road that is heavily settled with
many houses or farms, it may not be suitable. Dogs often respond to the owl playback and make it
difficult to hear any owls that might be calling back. If your route falls on a road that has a lot of homes
(e.g. several per kilometre on average), it is probably not suitable.
2. The road(s) followed on the route should be permanent roads, which will likely be available for surveying
in future years. Roads should be accessible in April. If you’re not sure if a road is accessible in April (it
might be too muddy or wet, and you may require a 4WD vehicle), ask someone who lives nearby!
3. The route should follow secondary roads with little traffic and sufficient safe points for stopping.
Generally, a road that has constant traffic is not suitable for the owl survey, as it is neither safe nor easy
to hear owls when cars and trucks are constantly passing.
If you find that your route does not fit one or more of the above requirements, please contact the survey
coordinator who will choose a new route for you. Because we are attempting to randomize the location of
routes, please do not attempt to choose your own new route. However, any knowledge you could provide on
the suitability of roads in the area would help us to pick a better route.
The following materials may be included in your participant's kit:
• Instruction booklet
• training CD
• broadcast CD
• survey and data forms
• route map and stop description form
• application for voluntary support
• Envelope for returning the completed forms
You will have to supply the following:
• CD player
• Towel (to place underneath CD player to avoid scratching your vehicle)
• Flashlight
• Spare batteries for flashlight and CD player (* VERY IMPORTANT*)
• Watch
• Pencil/pen and clipboard
• Compass
• Reliable vehicle
Handy but optional equipment:
• Headlamp-type flashlight
• Geographic Positioning System (GPS)
• Cell phone (in case of emergency)
Broadcast Equipment
We are attempting to provide standardized broadcast equipment to all surveyors by purchasing 10 CD
players and making them available for borrowing through the PEI-EEF. If you own a loud portable CD
player, you may use it for the survey provided it passes the simple test outlined below. We have established
400 metres as the minimum distance at which you should be able to recognize the Barred Owl calls when
the broadcast CD is played at maximum volume without causing undue distortion (under ideal conditions: in
an open area with no wind or precipitation). If your own equipment does not meet this guideline, please
make arrangements to borrow a CD player from Rosemary Curley at the PEI-EEF or from a friend.
Differences in the volume and sound quality of different CD players will no doubt affect the number of owls
that respond. However, as long as the average volume and quality of the CD player used by an individual
volunteer on a specific route does not change over time, the survey should be able to monitor long-term
trends in owl populations. In other words, please attempt to use the same CD player each year you
conduct the survey!
If you are using your own CD player....
This test takes about 20 minutes to complete and can be done anytime before the survey. It should be
carried out under weather and noise conditions similar to those which will likely be encountered during the
survey (i.e. little or no wind, no precipitation, minor background noise). Use two people for this test: one to
listen and one to run the CD player.
Find a quiet, open area where you can measure off distances of approximately 400 and 500 metres either by
pacing (100 metres is roughly 120 steps for most people) or driving (use car odometer). One volunteer
should stand 400, and then 500, metres away from the CD player while the other volunteer plays the
broadcast CD. The CD player should be played at the maximum volume possible without causing
distortion. If your CD player has bass and treble settings, make sure they are set to the "normal" setting.
Listen to see if the Barred Owl calls are audible and recognizable at both 400 and 500 m. The results of this
test should be entered on the first page of the survey form.
When to Survey Your Route
Survey Window
Please run your route once per year, on any evening during the designated survey period. We strongly
encourage you to run your route in the first two weeks of the survey window to avoid competing frog
choruses or messy roads due to snowmelt. Noise from running streams is also a problem later in the season.
The survey should begin one half hour after sunset and finish no later than midnight. Please check your
local paper for sunset time. (Don’t forget that Daylight Savings Time begins the first Sunday of April.)
The time required to complete a survey, not including travel time to and from
the route, ranges from 2.5 hours to 4.5 hours.
Weather Conditions
Weather has a great influence on our ability to hear owls. Calm conditions are without a doubt the best.
Wind and precipitation significantly reduce calling rates and detectability, while cloud cover is less
important. Because some owl calls do not carry very far, wind is a critical limiting factor. Try to conduct
surveys with little or no wind (3 or less on the Beaufort Scale; see data forms for details). Extremely cold
temperatures have an adverse effect. For optimum response, try to select a night that is clear, calm and not
too cold (e.g. warmer than -15ºC). Do not attempt a survey if the wind exceeds force 3 or if there is
persistent snow or rain. If conditions deteriorate over the course of an evening, use your judgement as to
whether or not the route should be completed, or run again on another evening. Generally, light snow or
drizzle starting in the middle of a survey shouldn't prevent you from completing your route, but strong winds
are a much more serious problem.
How to Survey Your Route
Drive to the starting location. Plan to arrive at least half an hour after sunset. Reset your trip odometer.
This is Stop 1. Fill out date and weather information at the top of the data form. Put the broadcast CD in
your CD player. Be careful not to play the training CD instead of the broadcast CD!
At each stop, put the CD player on the roof or hood of the vehicle. Push the play button on the CD player
and move at least 20 metres away. Although all participants should listen and watch for owls, only one
person should act as the surveyor and be responsible for identifying and counting owls and completing the
survey forms. Please use the forms provided for recording data in the field, following the instructions
on pages 7 to 10.
There are two copies of the data form (a good copy, on coloured paper, and a rough copy, on
white paper). The “good” copy (stapled to the survey form) will be scanned at BSC and therefore
needs to be legible. We have provided the rough copy so that you can use it on your survey
without worrying about wrinkling or staining the good copy. When you complete the survey,
please transcribe your data on to the good datasheet. If you decide to use the good copy on your
route, please be careful with it!
The broadcast CD is a single, 12-minute track. It starts with a beep to indicate the start of the first silent
listening period, which lasts one minute. Record all owls heard or seen. Another beep marks the end of the
first silent listening minute. This is followed by a second silent listening minute. Record any new owls
heard or seen during this second minute, as well as any owls from the first period that continue to call. Owls
heard during these first two silent minutes are calling voluntarily, rather than in response to the playback.
Then, the Boreal Owl broadcast will begin (20 seconds long), followed by another one-minute silent
listening period. Record all owls heard and seen during this period separately. Keep track of whether the
owls heard in the first 2 minutes continue to call and mark down any new owls, which start to call.
Remember that both Boreal and Northern Saw-whet owls can be expected to respond to the Boreal Owl call.
Then the Barred Owl broadcast will play for 20 seconds. This will be followed by a two-minute silent
listening period. Then the Barred Owl broadcast will be repeated, followed by another two-minute silent
listening period. This Barred Owl broadcast is repeated 2 more times, with a silent listening period
between each broadcast. Again, record any owls heard or seen during each of these listening periods. A
beep marks the end of the broadcast after the final two-minute listening period.
Estimate the distance and direction to each owl when it first began to call, following the instructions on page
9. We realize that these particular measurements can be difficult to make; please do your best. These data
can be used for gross-scale habitat modelling and to adjust for some variation in detection rates using
sampling methods.
Before you leave each stop, make sure you have noted the odometer reading, time of day, traffic count and
the background noise levels. It is important to keep track of the noise level on your route, because noise can
affect the detectability of owls. For example, if the average noise level on a route increases with time, then
the number of owls detected might decrease, even though the actual number of owls calling was not
Proceed immediately to the next station, and repeat the above procedure at all 10 stops. At the end of the
last stop, record the time and weather conditions. Add up the total number of owls of each species and fill
out the Comments section.
How to Complete the Survey Form and Data Form
The first page of the survey form can be completed before starting the survey. The reverse side of the survey
form has a summary of the key survey instructions and definitions for the various codes to be used in
completing the data forms. Detailed instructions for filling out the forms, as well as an example of a
completed data form are included below. Please study the sample data form carefully to ensure that data
are collected accurately. Codes to be used in completing the data forms are also reproduced below (on p.
10 & 11).
Broadcast equipment: If you are using your own CD player, indicate the type of equipment you are using.
Also indicate the results of the equipment test described on page 5.
Date: Please note the month first (in numerals) followed by the day, e.g. 04-08
Observer Number: This is printed on the data label on the first page of the survey form. Please fill in
your observer number on the data sheet. If you were not the surveyor originally assigned to this route
(and therefore you do not have an observer number), simply leave this field blank (we will fill it in
Weather: Record the weather conditions at both the start and end of the survey. Estimate the air
temperature. Circle the appropriate code (as listed on the reverse side of the survey form) to indicate the
wind, cloud cover and precipitation.
Odometer reading: This information is particularly important if a stop has to be shifted from the
standard station spacing of 2 km due to noise interference (from running water, frogs, hydro generator,
barking dogs) or unsuitable habitat (open fields, homes).
Time at each stop: Record the time of day using the 24-hour clock (e.g. 1900h) at the start of each new
Owl Information: We are primarily interested in knowing how many owls of each species you hear,
when you first heard each owl (i.e. during which silent minute, or after which playback call?), and
whether it continued to call in subsequent listening periods. We would also like you to note any owls,
which were seen but not heard, and individuals you think are "repeats" (the same bird you heard at
previous station), and possible pairs. If you think you are hearing the same bird as at a previous station,
then put “Y” into the section of the data form that says “Repeat?”
At each stop, record each owl detected in the column immediately to the right of the stop number by
writing in the appropriate 4-letter species code, as provided on the reverse side of the survey form. For
each stop, up to 4 different owls can be recorded on the lines provided. If more than four owls are
detected at a stop, then these additional birds can be recorded in the spaces provided at the end of the
form, being careful to write in the stop number beside them. Record each individual owl on a separate
line even if they are the same species.
The seven columns to the right of the species codes are used to indicate which of the seven listening
periods a particular owl was heard calling in. When an owl is heard, record the species code as noted
above, then place an "X" in the column(s) corresponding to when that owl was heard (e.g. if an owl is
heard calling during the second silent listening period, place an “X” in the column titled, “2nd minute”. If
the owl is heard during every listening period, place an “X” in every column). Leave the relevant
column blank if a particular owl was not heard during that listening period. Follow the sample form
You may be wondering why we require such precise information about when owls are detected during
playback. First, it is extremely important that we note whether the owls were heard before or after the
playback (i.e. during the first two silent minutes, or after the Boreal or Barred Owl calls), so that we can
determine the effect of playback on calling behaviour. In addition, the first two minutes of silent
listening are standardized in owl surveys across the country based on the National Guidelines.
Therefore, if we want PEI data to be used in any Canada-wide analyses, it is important that we keep
track of owls heard separately before and after playback. By further noting exactly which period the owl
called in, we can also analyze the effectiveness of multiple playback periods. For example, we can
determine the proportion of Barred Owls that called after 2 sets of calls, as opposed to four sets. If we
find that 95% of owls are detected after only 2 sets of calls, we may decide, in future years, that the last
two sets of calls are not necessary.
If the owl is seen but not heard, put an "S" in the appropriate column. If the owl was both seen and
heard, use “XS”. Please do not use “XX” to denote two owls heard calling during the same listening
period! Use a separate line for each individual owl. Also, we are not interested in how many times an
owl calls during a particular listening period. Use only one X to denote that an owl called, regardless of
whether it called once, or 20 times.
Only owls detected between the start and end of the broadcast CD should be tallied. If you detect an
owl before or after this period, make a note in the Remarks column, but do not include this individual
when you add up the total number of owls on the route.
Distance to owl: For each owl heard calling, estimate its distance from you at the point when it first
began to call by checking off the appropriate distance category (<200m, 200-500m, 500-1000m, and
>1000m). Be sure to indicate your level of certainty for the majority of owls detected by circling the
appropriate choice at the bottom of the data forms (i.e. are you very confident, confident, or uncertain
about your distance estimates?).
Direction to owl: For each owl heard calling, estimate the direction it is calling from at the point when
it first began to call using a compass. Stand on the road facing forward (i.e. the direction you are
traveling in). Use the compass to determine which way is North and estimate which compass direction
most closely matches the direction the owl is calling from (e.g. N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW). Again,
be sure to indicate your level of certainty for the majority of owls detected by circling the appropriate
choice at the bottom of the data forms (i.e. are you very confident, confident, or uncertain about your
direction estimates?).
Traffic count: Indicate the number of vehicles which pass by during the broadcast period at each stop
in the column provided.
Noise level: Rate the background noise level at each stop using the four-point scale described on the
reverse side of the survey form. Please do not give a range of possibilities for noise level; give only
one code per stop (e.g. Noise Level = 1). Describe the source of any elevated noise levels (above level
1) in the Remarks section (e.g. frogs calling, airplane overhead, running water, etc.).
Other Species: If you are confident in the identification of American Woodcock, Ruffed Grouse and
Common Snipe, please record the number detected at each stop. If you detect none please enter a 0 so
that we know you were listening for them. If you are not confident in identifying these additional
species please put an X in the boxes. The characteristic sounds made by woodcock and snipe are found
on your training cd. Male Ruffed Grouse can be identified by their deep drumming sound that increases
rapidly in tempo.
Comments: Note any additional wildlife detected, interesting habitat characteristics as well as any other
interesting observations made during that stop.
General Remarks: Please complete the General Remarks section of the cover sheet immediately
following the survey while the experience is still fresh in your mind. Your comments are very
important. We want to be sure we design this volunteer survey so that it is feasible, enjoyable and
WIND (Beaufort Scale)
0. Calm, smoke rises vertically.
1. Light air movement, smoke drifts.
2. Slight breeze, wind felt on face.
3. Gentle breeze, small twigs move.
4. Moderate breeze, small branches move.
5. Fresh breeze, small trees sway.
1. 0-25%
2. 25-50%
3. 50-75%
4. 75-100%
5. Fog
(circle one)
1. None or slight, relatively quiet, little interference.
2. Moderate, some interference with broadcast and/or listening.
3. High, substantial interference with broadcast and/or listening.
4. Excessive noise, extreme interference with broadcast and/or listening.
BARR = Barred Owl
BOOW = Boreal Owl
GHOW = Great Horned Owl
NSWO = Northern Saw-whet Owl
EASO = Eastern Screech Owl
LEOW = Long=eared Owl
SEOW = Short-eared Owl
NHOW = Northern Hawk Owl
UNOW = Unknown Owl
Scannable Forms – Helpful Hints
USE PEN instead of a pencil or felt-tipped marker when filling in forms as they are easier for the computer
to “read.”
PLEASE PRINT legibly using block letters as the scanning program cannot discern cursive writing. Please
follow the sample forms carefully when filling in your forms.
RIGHT JUSTIFY data within the appropriate columns, otherwise the scanner may not read it correctly.
STAY BETWEEN THE LINES when filling out your datasheet. The scanning program cannot decipher
lines that cross into multiple fields. If you need more room than what is provided, please use the “Remarks &
Other Species” section or attach a separate page.
FILL IN THE BUBBLES completely when you are asked to make a choice using them.
MISTAKES HAPPEN! Try to limit errors, but if they occur, correct them as best you can. To reduce the
number of mistakes, we have provided a rough datasheet to use on your survey. Please transcribe your data to
the “good” form and return that to BSC. If you really mess up, give us a call and we can send you a new
Prince Edward Island Nocturnal Owl Survey Stop Description Form
Route Number: _____63______ Route Name: ________Chockpish_________________________________________
Written by: _________Becky Whittam________________ Date completed: ________April 8 2004___________
Description (landmarks, general habitat) Latitude/Longitude
(from GPS)
NAD 83
1 0 2.5 km west of St. Edouard de Kent on Renaud Rd.
Forest all around. Just before “private property no
tresspassing” sign.
45.42403° N
67.25186° W
2 2.1 Just past driveway with white and green pillars.
Jack pine (plantation?) on right.
45.44585° N
67.25969° W
3 4.15 Turned left on 475. Just past curve on 475. White
house on left. Alders, tamarack, cedar.
45.46041° N
67.27325° W
4 6.1 At intersection of Bay Rd. Just before house on
right. Forest both sides
45.47383° N
67.29027° W
5 9.0 Turn right on 505; just before bridge and after
house. Hardwoods.
45.48541° N
67.30973° W
6 11.4 About 200 m past savonnerie. Lots of tamarack.
Trailer on left.
45.49857° N
67.32721° W
7 13.55 Just past old motel. Black spruce, tamarack,
45.51210° N
67.34365° W
8 15.8 White shed on right, spruce, tamarack on left.
About 100 m beyond intersection where 505 heads
east toward the water.
45.52608° N
67.35993° W
9 17.8 At sign for Richibucto Village. Spruce.
45.54113° N
67.37405° W
10 21.5 La Prairie Road, about 1.3 km from Richibucto
Village. Just past speed limit sign, before bend in
road sign. Birch, cedar.
45.55636° N
67.38782° W
Note Regarding Coordinates
For routes with pre-established coordinates they are provided in degree decimal format which is also the
preferred format for you to submit new coordinates. While you may not be familiar with this format it is
easy to use and by far the easiest in terms of data entry and management.
Rare Owls
If you’re lucky enough to see or hear one of PEI’s rare owl species (Boreal Owl, Long-eared Owl,
Short-eared Owl), please contact the survey coordinator RIGHT AWAY (i.e. the very next morning!).
We will follow up on your reports of rare species (perhaps by visiting your route again) to further verify
these important records.
Returning the Completed Forms
After you've completed the survey, check over your forms (survey form, data form, stop description
form) to make sure all information is complete (and legible). If you have access to a photocopier, make
a copy of your data forms for your records (and in case the originals get lost in the mail. If you fax your
data forms, please send a copy of the original forms by mail as the faxed forms cannot be scanned.
Please return the forms by 30 May to Rosemary Curley at the PEI Department of Environment, Energy
and Forestry: PO Box 2000, 11 Kent St. 4th Floor; Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8; (902)
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the survey you may also contact:
Becky Whittam, Bird Studies Canada - Atlantic Region
P.O. Box 6227, Sackville, NB, E4L 1G6
phone: (506) 364-5047
fax: (506) 364-5062
Song broadcasts are effective in locating and studying owls but should not be used indiscriminately.
Responding birds may continue to vocalize for some time after the playback ends, and therefore may be
more easily located by predators. In addition, frequent and persistent playback may affect the normal
activities of the owl. Enjoy the birding experience but please keep disturbance to a minimum. If you wish to
use playback outside of the actual survey, please do so sparingly; do not use it to continually attract one or
two pairs of owls which happen to be in a convenient location. Remember that the health and welfare of
each bird is our utmost priority.
We are also concerned about your safety. Dress warmly. Please be careful when standing on roadsides at
night and while driving on wintry roads.
We couldn't do it without you.
Please read the following descriptions of owl calls and listen to your training CD. Go out owling with an
experienced birder before conducting your survey. Most information taken from:
Commonly encountered in PEI
Barred Owl
Highly vocal, giving a loud and resounding "hoo, hoo, too-HOO; hoo, hoo, too-HOO, ooo" often
phrased as "Who, cooks, for-you? Who, cooks, for-you, all?" The last syllable drops off noticeably. Will
call in the day and at night. Other calls include "hoo-hoo, hoo-WAAAHH" and "hoo-WAAAHHH" used
in courtship. Mates will duet (as on training CD). Other vocalisations range from a short yelp or bark to
a frenzied monkey-like squall.
Great Horned Owl
Large repertoire of sounds, from deep booming hoots to shrill shrieks. The male's resonant territorial
call "hoo-hoo hoooooo hoo-hoo" is often phrased as “Who’s awake? Me, too”. Gives a growling
"krrooo-oo" or screaming note when attacking intruders. Other sounds include a "whaaa whaaaaaa-a-aaarrk" from disturbed birds, a catlike "MEEE-OWww", barks, hair-raising shrieks, coos, and beak
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Primary courtship call is a monotonous, whistled "hoop, hoop, hoop, hoop…", given at a rate of about
1½ notes per second. Territorial calls are series of short clear notes. The Saw-whet Owl's name comes
from the "skiew" call that is made when alarmed. This sound resembles the whetting of a saw. When the
male flies to the nest with food it gives a rapid staccato burst of toots, and the female responds with a
soft "swEE".
Rarely encountered in PEI
Long-eared Owl
Main call is a low "hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, .....", repeated 10 to 200 times, with one note every 2 to 3
seconds. The female responds with a raspy buzz call, and often duets with the male. When alarmed,
Long-eared Owls bark "whek-WHEK-whek" or shriek like a cat. Both males and females hiss during
exchange of prey or when alarmed.
Boreal Owl
A rapid, high-pitched, “to-to-to”, like the sound of dropping water or a series of musical, cooing notes.
Similar to the sound made by Common Snipe tail feathers during display flight (also included on
training CD). Please see also the Boreal Owl Identification Sheet included with the survey kit.
Short-eared Owl
Unlikely to be detected on the PEI survey, because they are diurnal (active during the day), and prefer
open habitat to forest. The male's territorial song is a pulsing "voo-hoo-hoo", resembling an old steam
engine. This song is given mainly during flight displays and the female responds with a barking "keeow". When excited near the nest, both sexes squawk, bark, hiss and squeal.
Species Descriptions follow for:
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Boreal Owl
Taken from:
Erskine, A.J. 1992. Atlas of Breeding Birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus Publishing, Nova Scotia
Museum. 270 pp.
Source: Erskine, A.J. 1992. Atlas of Breeding
Birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus
Publishing, Nova Scotia Museum. 270 pp.
Source: Erskine, A.J. 1992. Atlas of Breeding
Birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus
Publishing, Nova Scotia Museum. 270 pp.
Source: Erskine, A.J. 1992. Atlas of Breeding
Birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus
Publishing, Nova Scotia Museum. 270 pp.
Source: Erskine, A.J. 1992. Atlas of Breeding
Birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus
Publishing, Nova Scotia Museum. 270 pp.
Source: Erskine, A.J. 1992. Atlas of Breeding
Birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus
Publishing, Nova Scotia Museum. 270 pp.
Source: Erskine, A.J. 1992. Atlas of Breeding
Birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus
Publishing, Nova Scotia Museum. 270 pp.

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