There are two things you should know about Short Eared Owls: they are listed by New York State as an endangered species and they are plentiful along Nations Road in Geneseo and Avon.
Why is Nations Road a safe haven for this species which is in steep decline? The large swaths of grassland fields along Nations Road are the perfect habitat for these owls that swoop low over the grasses hunting. Owls fly down from the northern reaches of Canada to hunt these fertile grounds. Some may remain here year-round, though their year-round residency is shifter further north as pressures encroach on their habitat.
Habitat loss throughout their range is having an impact on Short Eared Owls. Nations Road is threatened by subdivision and residential development as Geneseo and Avon expand, putting this unique area and the owls at risk. Manicured lawns don’t support the wildlife owls need to survive and development brings cars, noise, and buildings to areas they need for hunting.
The Genesee Valley Conservancy is working with local landowners to prevent subdivision and development within the Nations Road Grassland, a special region designed by the National Audubon Society which includes a dozen endangered grassland bird species and many more that are listed as threatened or of special concern. Over 30 projects in this region have protected 4,700 acres of private lands, providing a base for Short-Eared Owls to continue to thrive.
But there is more to be done; hundreds of acres containing important grassland fields are not protected and Genesee Valley Conservancy needs to continue working with these landowners to prevent development of these critical fields so as not to spoil the amazing amount of conservation work put together over the past twenty-five years.
Thanks to support of Oak Tree runners, the Genesee Valley Conservancy raises critical funds each year to support continued work within the Nations Road Grassland.
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