LA CROSSE, Wis. — For the first time in more than 20 years, a barn owl nest has been found in Wisconsin.
The nest was found in September after a young barn owl fell out of a dead tree in a La Crosse backyard. It was picked up by the Coulee Region Human Society.
Karla Bloem from the International Owl Center in Houston, Minnesota visited the site and placed a camera scope in the tree cavity. She found a pair of barn owls and three owlets.
By October, the owl that fell was returned to his nest. He and his family stayed there through the end of the month.
"This is an exciting development for Wisconsin, as this nest could have easily gone undetected," Ryan Brady, DNR Conservation Biologist and Bird Monitoring Coordinator, said.
Although there's been an uptick in barn owl sightings in Wisconsin and other upper Midwestern states, this is the first time a nest has been confirmed.
Barn owls typically nest and roost in tree cavities, abandoned barns, and buildings. They require large areas of open land to hunt, and can be spotted flying low at night.
Barn owls have an iconic white heart-shaped face and are known for their high pitched scream. However, trying to identify an owl species by sound can be challenging. Abarn owl often sounds like a young great horned owl, which is a far more common species.
"Ninety-nine percent of the barn owl reports we get are young great horned owls," Brady said.
He said if you think you're hearing a barn owl, try to record the sound on your phone. You can report barn owl sightings to the DNR by following this link.