Randy Lauff's Research

Owl Research

The first nest Boreal Owl nest in Nova Scotia, June 2004! My current research involves a comparison of the ecologies of the Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus) and Northern Saw-whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) in Nova Scotia.

A lot of work has been done on the Boreal Owl in Scandinavia (where it is known as Tengmalm's Owl). Only in the last couple of decades, has this owl been shown to breed in Ontario and south of 49th parallel. Since then, it has been found to be breeding at high elevations as far south as northern New Mexico.  In 2004, I found the first two nests of the Boreal Owl in Nova Scotia, which were also the first ones found in the Maritimes for ~70 years.

My preliminary work has involved the erecting of nest boxes through northern Cape Breton and also in Guysborough County. To do this, I make liberal use of volunteers whom I graciously thank. 

A short series of pages are available that will show you how to build the same type of nest box that I use.

Funding for this project has come from the Nova Scotia Museum, the Nova Scotia Bird Society, Bird Studies Canada, via funds generated by the Baillie Birdathon, Stora Enso, and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources,


Entomology Research

Although I've worked with Horse and Deer Flies (Tabanidae) and Carrion Beetles (Silphidae) in the past, my current work is looking at the phenology and trapability of predaceous aquatic insects, focussing mostly on the Dytiscidae (left), but also including larger bugs (e.g. the Eastern Toe Biter, right) and other families of beetles.

This work is funded by The Nova Scotia Museum as well as the Department of Natural Resources, and is done in collaboration with Barry Taylor.


After nine field seasons, in 2004, I was overjoyed to announce the discovery of the first TWO Boreal Owl nests in Nova Scotia. The early nest is pictured above, the later nest is to the right.

To the best of my knowledge, three chicks fledged from the early nest; the later nest was depredated (likely by Red Squirrels).

The female incubating three eggs - the late nest.




R.F. Lauff
Department of Biology
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, NS Canada B2G 2W5