Tiny Backpacks on Small Owls Helps Conservation

| June 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

Conservationists working with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research are using pint-size data-tracking systems to monitor the movements and resource use of burrowing owls in San Diego County.  The GPS dataloggers are placed in a tiny backpack carried by each owl.

 “The backpacks are small enough that they are not negatively affecting the birds,” said Colleen Wisinski, Research Coordinator for San Diego Zoo Global. “(and) the information we are collecting will be critical to scientific management of this species by adding to our understanding of their habitat use and movements.”

Burrowing owls are small diurnal birds that live in burrows in the ground throughout much of the western United States.  Predatory in nature but small in stature, the cute owls catch insects and small rodents for food.  In recent years, conservationists have become increasingly concerned because populations appear to be shrinking.  San Diego Zoo Global researchers are working to understand the species’ lifestyle so that future conservation efforts can be most effective.

 Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Burrowing owls are small diurnal birds that live in burrows in the ground throughout much of the western United States.

Burrowing owls are small diurnal birds that live in burrows in the ground throughout much of the western United States.

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