PERRYVILLE (AP) — An effort is afoot to save barn owls roosting in structures at the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site while officials also work to restore the area to its condition during the Civil War.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports preservationists built new, safe homes for the birds, but they haven’t yet moved it.
“They tend to do what they want to do, not what we tell them to do,” said Kate Hayden, a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources avian biologist who is helping with the effort.
Park officials are planning to tear down several barns and silos from the 1950s in order to make the 750-acre property look more like it did in October 1862, when the Battle of Perryville was fought.
“One of our local bird watchers called one day and said there were barn owls living in one of the silos we’d scheduled for removal,” park preservation director Joni House said. “That put me in a quandary.
“We want the battlefield to look the way it did, but we also don’t want to remove habitat if it’s going to hurt any of the creatures that live here.”
Barn owls are small birds with big eyes and heart-shaped white faces that screech instead of hoot. They hunt rodents at night and lay low in the daytime. Hayden said Fish and Wildlife has confirmed about 48 nesting pairs of barn owls in Kentucky and about 12 single birds.
House said officials decided to build breeding boxes on 30-foot-tall poles in April to try to entice the owls to move out of the barns.
“We’re trying to coax them, and I think it’s starting to work,” she said this month. “The other day I found some of their little owl pellets at the bottom of one of the boxes, so I think maybe they’re checking it out as a potential new home.”
She said workers are trying to gently nudge the animals to move, but will exercise patience in the endeavor.
“I’m a nature lover, and I don’t want to preserve one thing at the cost of another,” House said. “There’s no reason why a lot of the park property can’t be maintained with wildlife on it, because the habitat was here in 1860.”