Owl Research

Randy Lauff

The first nest Boreal Owl nest in Nova Scotia, June 2004! My current research, funded by the Nova Scotia Museum, the Nova Scotia Bird Society and Bird Studies Canada, via funds generated by the Baillie Birdathon, involves a comparison of the ecologies of the Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus) and Northern Saw-whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) in Nova Scotia. The Boreal Owl has never been proven to breed here, though it is a generally understood fact that it does. This research has also been funded in the past by Stora Enso, the Nova Scotia Museum and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources,

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. 

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.

Results for 2005


Results for 2004


After nine field seasons, I am 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.


Results for 2003

The slump in the owl populations appears to be continuing (this has got to end sometime!). There are now all 50 nest boxes available, and of these, one in Guysborough County had a Northern Saw-whet Owl. I also have one nest in an old woodpecker hole in Antigonish County.

Fairmont Nest                             Donnellys Lake Nest

Results from previous years with more photos:

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