Boreal Owls nesting in Northern New Brunswick? Part Two
By Rod O’Connell
Here is a quote from the First Atlas: "Boreal Owls are active only at night, and they call early in the spring when few observers are afield, so they are easily missed…”
I completely agree with this statement. To further expand on this I will use information from the First Atlas compared to the Second Atlas. But to prove the point, I will not base it on the Boreal Owl but will use the information on the Barred Owl. In the First Atlas, the Region 5 had no information on breeding evidence for Barred Owls. No Barred Owls were recorded in this region. (See map below)
For the Second Atlas, the Barred Owl was noted in Region 5 as a regionally rare species and a Rare/Colonial Species Report Form had to be completed and submitted.
I became addicted to going out during the night to locate owls. To my surprise, in about all the squares I visited on these night outings, I would locate Barred Owls. The Barred Owl is easily located on a Nocturnal Owl Survey since they response readily to a recorded call.
I have no information on the efforts made during the First Atlas to locate Barred Owls in Region 5. If you look at Region 4, we have similar results between the First and Second Atlas. Although I cannot speak for Roy LaPointe, it does look like Roy made a greater effort to locate owls in Region 4 for the Second Atlas as compared to the efforts made for the First Atlas.
So back to the Boreal Owl and the quote from the First Atlas – "Boreal Owls are active only at night, and they call early in the spring when few observers are afield, so they are easily missed…”
If Barred Owls were missed in the First Atlas owing to few observers in the Region 4 and 5, it is more than probable that the same can be said for Boreal Owls which are more difficult to locate.
So, are Boreal Owls nesting in Northern New Brunswick? I would say yes! For that matter, they may be nesting in the whole of New Brunswick in appropriate nesting areas.
Here is my English translation from parts a report by Hilaire Chiasson in "Le Gobemouche, Vol 19 No. 1 Page 4-5" entitled «Nidification de la Nyctale de Tengmalm à Pointe-Alexandre sur l’Ile Lamèque en 2005 (Aegoelus funereus)»
"So it is with the aid of a mirror and a flashlight in the evening of April 9, 2005, we saw two eggs of a creamy white… My visit on the 30th of May I saw an owlet and an egg…On June 20, we could see an owlet occupying the cavity opening. It did not seem long before it could take flight… The owlet was still at the cavity opening on my visit of June 27th. This will be its last night in the cavity as during my visit the next day, the nest was empty."
A telephone conversation with Frank Branch from Trudel on January 17th, 2013 – "The evening of July 7th 2005, I was with Hilaire when we saw the owlet for the last time, from 9 PM to midnight."
In Roger Burrows’ book "Birding in New Brunswick," published by Goose Lane 2010, he indicates that Miscou Island has the occasional breeding Boreal Owl but gives no further details. He, however, indicates that Boreal Owls are noted in a variety of locations across the province.
Why are there many reports of Boreal Owls in the Acadian Peninsula the during the First Atlas surveys and continuing reports up 2005 and then suddenly no more reports of Boreal Owls during the Second Atlas surveys.
Referring back to my telephone conversations with Frank Branch; "We are only a small group of birders in the area and we have not done extensive surveys during the Second Atlas surveys." The main persons, who did many surveys during the preceding years, where no longer doing the surveys for Boreal Owls.
Boreal Owls are probably now hooting under the dense cover of a New Brunswick forest. Any hardy souls ready to scrutinize these remote dense forested areas? There may be a chance to get a glimpse of what Burrows noted in his book "Birds of Atlantic Canada" published by Lone Pine 2002 as "the top five of the most desired species to see..." Good luck!