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Ecologists discover city is 'uber-forest' for big owls
Date:10/16/2007

It may be news to its bankers, but Charlotte, the biggest city in North Carolina and a major center of the American financial industry, is actually an old growth forest.

At least thats the way the barred owls see it. .

Charlotte is famous for having two kinds of green. It is home to two of the nations largest banks and its downtown residential neighborhoods and near-suburbs are also known for their lush yards and green streets, lined with large trees. Less well-known is the fact that the city is almost as well populated with large owls particularly barred owls as it is with bankers. Harry Potter would feel very much at home.

In fact, the barred owl population in Charlotte is so strong that the city was chosen to be the site for the most extensive barred owl research study that has ever been attempted, with fieldwork going on in the manicured front lawns and gardened back yards of urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Urban wildlife numbers have been increasing in recent decades, notably in populations of squirrels, Canada geese, raccoons and deer, but the appearance of significant urban populations of barred owls, the third largest owl species in the US, is a surprise to many biologists.

If you read about barred owls in the textbooks, it says they need large stands of old-growth forest to survive, notes University of North Carolina at Charlotte ecologist and ornithologist Rob Bierregaard, who has directed the six-year-old research study. Either the barred owls in Charlotte havent read that book or the book is wrong, because they are really here and apparently doing quite well.

We have concluded is that there may be a third possibility: that old suburban neighborhoods in fact are an old growth forest, at least as far as the barred owls are concerned.

Bierregaards study has now found and monitored more than 200 nesting attempts by 78 different pairs in both suburban Charlotte and the surrounding co
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Contact: James Hathaway
jbhathaw@uncc.edu
704-687-6675
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Source:Eurekalert

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