New birds

Manitoba’s FortWhyte Alive moves out waterfowl, waits for burrowing owls.

A new species of wing class is moving to where the ducks and the snow geese used to play. The prairie dog will join the burrowing owl, a small ground-based creature currently found predominately in the southwest corner of Manitoba, in the new space entitled Prairie Partners.

If you’ve never heard of a burrowing owl before, chances are you’re not alone. Ken De Smet, a species-at-risk biologist for the province, says the declining quality of the grasslands coupled with the shrinking population of the owl in North America, has led to just a handful of birds locally.

“We know of maybe six to 12 breeding pairs in Manitoba over the last couple years,” said De Smet. “That’s an upswing compared to what it was 10 years ago.”

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