Rare barn owl nesting site discovered after downed bird found in La Crosse area

LA CROSSE, Wis. — A barn owl in the care of a La Crosse-area humane society was reunited with its siblings earlier this month.

The bird was first found downed in a La Crosse area yard in early fall. Coulee Region Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation workers took the bird into its care and reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to find a safe home for it.

According to a Facebook post, humane society staff got in touch with Karla Bloem of the International Owl Center in Houston, Minnesota for more advice.

Bloem was given the address of the dead tree believed to be the owl’s home. When she used a camera to peer into an opening in the tree, she found three other young owls nesting inside.

DNR officials said the rare bird’s nest was the first confirmed nesting site in Wisconsin with young in it since 1999. In a previous Facebook post, the Coulee Region Humane Society said DNR officials told them they only get roughly two positive barn owl sightings each year.

With the help of a dedicated team, humane society staff successfully banded the downed bird to help monitor if it’s caught again before returning it to its home.

Barn owls used to be abundant in the Midwest, but their population plummeted in the late 60s and early 70s. Their decline was mostly the result of habitat loss because of farm development and the use of toxic pesticides.