The Newlands property is on Newlands Drive, across from the hospital. The property is noted in the City of Revelstoke’s Official Community Plan to include single family homes and would be a suitable location for a small café or retail shop. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

‘We’re resigned to saying goodbye’: B.C. owls nesting in upcoming subdivision

Local residents said the owls have nested in nearby woods for decades

A property in Revelstoke slotted for a new subdivision is home to a Great Horned Owl’s nest.

The Newlands property, across from the Queen Victoria Hospital, has 25 lots for single family dwellings. The developer, Willie-Jim Holdings Ltd., cleared land for an access road last fall, part of a multi-phased project.

Patrick Roche, spokesperson, said the company is expected to start selling the lots this fall. The nearly eight acre property is still mostly treed.

Great Horned Owls are distinct with widely spaced ear tufts, bright yellow eyes and a conspicuous white throat. This is one of the chicks spotted on the Newlands’ property, across the street from the hospital. (Submitted)

Tanya Kemprud moved into the area in 2003 and said owls have nested in those woods each spring since she arrived.

“We look forward to the owls every year,” she said.

“And everyone is talking about them this year.”

Several weeks ago, the province was notified by a nearby resident of a possible disturbance to an owl’s nest, said the Ministry of Forests in an email to Black Press.

According to the provincial Wildlife Act, it’s against the law to destroy or tamper with a nest when it’s occupied by a bird or its egg.

Roche said when Willie-Jim Holdings Ltd. was notified about the nest, they set up a 100 metre buffer zone to protect the owls and prevent public encroachment.

“We want to be wildlife stewards,” he said.

Having owls in Kemprud’s backyard has been a treasure for her children, she said.

Kemprud’s kids have spent days during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding and dissecting owl pellets, learning what owls eat, such as mice and rodents.

“We love our owls,” said Kemprud.

Roche said there are no plans to clear the trees on the lots until they are sold. He continued the developer will ensure each property owner is aware of possible owls in the area before they fell any trees.

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Roche said the developers will perform subsequent surveys before construction begins to ensure the owls have left the property.

Kemprud’s kids dissecting owl pellets, which contain rodent and bat skulls.(Submitted)

However, according to the province once the owls leave their nest, the trees can legally be cut down.

After the new subdivision, Kemprud said she doesn’t expect many trees to remain.

“It would be nice if the owls have some place to come back to, but we’re resigned to saying goodbye.”

Great Horned Owls are monogamous and usually mate for life. The bird commandeer another’s nest, such as red-tailed hawk or bald eagle.

According to the province, Great Horned Owls usually stay in the area of their nests for the summer.

The owl is one of the earliest nesters of B.C. birds from February to May.

The OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society said Great Horned Owls are common throughout B.C., including Revelstoke.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

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Great Horned Owls are distinct with widely spaced ear tufts, bright yellow eyes and a conspicuous white throat. This is one of the chicks spotted on the Newlands’ property, across the street from the hospital. (Submitted)

Kemprud’s kids dissecting owl pellets. (Submitted)

Kemprud said the year around the nest is littered with legs. According to OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society, these legs probably belonged to some sort of duck or other water bird. The distance between the foot and joint is too short to be blue heron, said the society. (Submitted)

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