EAC Discovery Park Campus new home to 12 juvenile Barn Owls

Contributed Photo: Bob with Wild at Heart shows a juvenile Barn Owl its new home.

By Paul Anger

THATCHER — Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus (EACDPC) recently received 12 juvenile Barn Owls and five nesting boxes through a partnership project with Freeport McMoran and Wild at Heart, an Arizona-based raptor rescue organization. The project plan is to provide a replacement native habitat for owls that are displaced through housing development, or rescued from natural disaster areas.

“The EAC Discovery Park campus is a perfect host site, offering a viable food supply, lush vegetation, and large cottonwood trees to live and hunt from,” said Paul Anger, EACDPC director.

The beautiful but elusive raptors are one of the most widely distributed species of owl. Although they are nocturnal and most active during the night, they are commonly seen resting during the day and are easily identified with a white, heart-shaped face and chest with brown and white spotted backs and wings. They have large eyes to help see at night and have a hooked upper beak and strong grasping talons to hold and kill prey. As year-round residents of southern Arizona, they eat small mammals like rats, mice, and rabbits. They also occasionally feed on smaller birds and snakes.

Contributed Photo: From left, Jeremy Saline, with Freeport McMoRan, and Emily East, with the Gila Watershed Partnership, prepare a section of an owl’s nesting box to be lifted into a tree.

Although only reaching about 1.5 pounds, they have a large wingspan of over 3.5 feet with ruffled edges that allow them to fly silently through the air, helping them to stealthily hunt and feed on three to four large mice each day.

The juvenile Barn Owls were relocated along the northern trails on the campus in the mature cottonwood trees. Visitors using the “Nature’s Hideaway” walking/running/biking trails may catch a glimpse of our new residents. They are no hazard to people or average-sized pets, and although a mythological “harbinger of doom”, they are a very welcome and interesting addition to the native wildlife that can be seen on the EAC Discovery Park Campus.

Special thanks to Freeport McMoRan for their community outreach projects to protect and improve our local native habitats and wildlife, and to Wild at Heart for their help in installing and relocating these beautiful raptors. The EAC Discovery Park Campus’ “Nature’s Hideaway” trails are open from dawn to dusk.

For more information on the Barn Owls at the EAC Discovery Park Campus, please call (928) 428-6260.

Contributed Photo: From left, the Barn Owl nesting box team consisted of Kara Barron, Bethany Drahota, Josh Lightner, and Steve Plath, all with the Gila Watershed Partnership, Ann George (FMI), Bob with Wild at Heart, Emily East (GWP), Jeremy Saline (FMI), and Paul Anger (EACDPC).
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