In 2020, as a boat was lowered from storage at a marina in Marmora, NJ, a nest full of Barn Owls was discovered. Subsequently, another Barn Owl was found injured by a car near Stone Harbor during the breeding season. These events suggested that low numbers of Barn Owls may be secretly breeding in the coastal marshes of the state and thus the NJ Coastal Barn Owl Project was born.
Barn Owl populations in New Jersey have been steadily declining to the point that they are likely to be listed as threatened in the state. Healthy populations, however, are found breeding to the north and south in the coastal marshes of New York and Maryland, where suitable nest sites are available. Importantly, New Jersey generally lacks breeding sites for the owls, especially along the Atlantic Coast. Research suggests that lack of sufficient breeding sites may inhibit populations from establishing or expanding. However, this can be easily remedied for species that utilize nest boxes by installing boxes in appropriate habitat.
The NJ Coastal Barn Owl Project is a collaborative effort among several organizations, including CSG, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, the NJ Division of Wildlife, and the Natural Lands Trust. Biologist, Trish Miller, is spearheading this community-based effort for CSG. The primary goals of the project are to establish a healthy breeding population along the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey and to educate the public about Barn Owls, their habits, and habitat. We aim to accomplish these goals by installing nest boxes along the Atlantic Coast and engaging the public through installation of boxes on school grounds, installation of nest cameras, and through direct engagement.