Since ancient times owls are known as a cultural symbol and they have been found in cave paintings in France, in Egyptian hieroglyphics, and in Mayan art. No wonder why owls are considered to be some of the most fascinating and mysterious raptors in the world useful in controlling populations prone to growth explosions such as rodent and insect species.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, forest ecosystems near Vareš are adorned by rare boreal and forest owls whose areal is related to the taiga, and in this area, these species are considered to be postglacial relics.
CENER 21 came up with an interesting idea of conducting a research based on the findings of young species (Eurasian pygmy owl - Glaucidium passerinum–small owl) found in the summer of 2017 in the area of Semizove Ponikve in Vareš, as well as the project of the feasibility Study for the protection of the Zvijezda mountain area, Vareš Municipality (Environmental Protection Fund, 2014). Forest ecosystems represent the natural habitats of boreal and forest owls. Unfortunately, due to the urbanization, illegal construction, deforestation and increased human demand for wood, living spaces for rare and delicate species are taken away, and among those species are the boreal owls.
The main objective of the project Research on boreal and forest owls in Vareš area, by implementing measures of active protection is to investigate endangered and vulnerable species of boreal and forest owls in the Vareš area, and to implement active protection measures to increase the number of young individuals.
During our first field research, started in spring 2019, in forest ecosystems near Vareš, along with professional contribution of engaged external associates “Naše ptice”, two owl species were identified, Eurasian pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum) - the smallest owl in Europe, and Boreal owl (Aegolius funereus). The finding of owls, Eurasian pygmy owl and Boreal owl motivated us to continue our research and to provide adequate protection measures to increase the number of young individuals in the future. Also, deforestation of spruce forests was observed, which has a negative impact on the owls habitat.
The following field visit was conducted at the end of October, where we placed more than 30 nest owl boxes on different locations all over the forest ecosystems near Vareš. We collected basic geographical information through the GPS to provide planned monitoring in spring. Owl boxes were previously adequately built of solid wood and filled with leaves substrate. The most important component in the nest owl box is a substrate which allows owls to lay eggs and raise their young. The key to a location is more about finding a place that is relatively undisturbed more than finding specific tree species or placing the box at the exact orientation.
How long before we attract the owls? The next monitoring will be provided in spring 2020 when we will find out, did our owl nest boxes were populated with owl parents and their young and also we will be able to collect important relevant information about observed Eurasian pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), Boreal owl (Aegolius funereus) and Ural owl (Strix uralensis).
The importance of implementation and realization of the project, as well as the results of field research will contribute to the protection of endangered owl’s species, which represent an important factor in the food chain of forest ecosystems. Contribution of engaged external associates “Naše ptice”, together with their professional experience on the terrain were essential for implementing active protection measures to increase the number of young owl individuals in the future.
The project is funded by the Environmental Fund of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina within the implementation of programs for environmental protection, year 2018.