Students Combat the Decrease of Burrowing Owls

April 6, 2018 Grantee: Audubon Arizona – Phoenix, AZ
Project Title: The Downtown Owls Project
Grant Type: ecoSolution

Description: Due to habitat loss and climate change, the number of Burrowing Owls in the western United States is steadily declining. Reports have estimated that the owl will lose 77% of its breeding range by the year 2080. Audubon Arizona decided to create a project that would combat the decrease of Burrowing Owls by enlisting the help of over 400 Phoenix-area students to assist with the Downtown Owls Project.

Not only does the program help restore habitat and breeding burrows for the owls, it helps the students too!  Studies show that American kids spend 44 hours a week on their phones and most urban children suffer from “nature deficit syndrome.” Further, 64% of students attending public schools in central and southern Phoenix fail the science section of the state standardized tests.

Middle and high school students who were engaged in the Downtown Owls Project had the opportunity to learn about Burrowing Owls, observe the owls in their natural habitat, and collect data about the owls and their progress.  Ultimately, they were able to apply this scientific learning to create safe habitats for the owls to live and breed.

The data collected from the project shows that the owls are adapting well in their new habitats!  Owls still occupy all five sites installed by the students, and have even started to breed in the new burrows.

For the students, enthusiasm for nature and the project was high – as was their excitement at doing REAL science!

Continuous impact/ Community engagement:

My students unanimously want to return, especially to visit the other owl sites. They really liked that they were recording actual scientific data.
– Virtue Ishihara, AP biology teacher at Central High School in Phoenix, AZ

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