FALMOUTH – Maine Audubon is seeking volunteers to conduct early morning owl surveys in the Bethel and Rangeley areas for the Maine Owl Monitoring Project. The “citizen scientist” volunteers will receive a cassette tape and written training material to learn the nine possible owl species they may hear during the surveys, which run from midnight to 4 a.m.

Each volunteer is assigned an established road route and on any night between now and April 10 will conduct a 13-minute survey at each of 10 points along the route. For the first two minutes, volunteers listen quietly for calling owls. They then use a cassette tape player to play calls of Maine’s three most common owls (great-horned, barred and northern saw-whet), waiting between each call in order to note any responses.

They log information about the survey, including weather conditions, temperature and owls heard, on a data sheet they send to project coordinator Susan Gallo at Maine Audubon.

Data from the surveys is giving scientists at Maine Audubon and its project partner, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, an idea of how many owls live in the state, which is not an easy calculation since the birds are nocturnal and breed in the winter.

The organizations hope long-term data from the project will reveal if owl populations are declining, as anecdotal evidence suggests, and why large die-offs occur every few years.

Those interested participating should contact Susan Gallo at 781-2330, ext. 216, or [email protected] Volunteers are also needed in Bridgton and Fryeburg.

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