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Turn that Radio Down! Tracking the Busy Life of Flammulated Owl Dads
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When pairs of Flammulated owls get ready to reproduce, they must find a place to build their nest. They need a location convenient to a food supply suitable for baby Flammulated owls. The scientists wanted to know what kind of habitat Flammulated owls prefer to use when raising their young.
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The development of technology has been helpful to scientists who want to study animals that live in the wild. By using technology, scientists can learn about these animals without harming or interfering with the animals'normal behavior and movements. The scientists in this study used radiotelemetry to study the behavior and movements of Flammulated (fla mu la ted) owl fathers. Radiotelemetry involves attaching a small electronic transmitter to the animal. The device sends out a signal that is detected by an electronic receiver. The scientist can then identify the location of the animal, even as the animal moves from place to place in its habitat. It is important not to disturb wildlife even when we are trying to learn more about it. Technology helps scientists to do this.
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Flammulated owls make their nests and raise their young in old conifer forests (Figure 1). Old forests are forests whose trees have not been cut down or disturbed for hundreds of years. In addition to large living trees, old forests have large numbers of standing dead trees. These dead trees, or snags, are preferred by owls because they can make their nests in the dead trees'cavities (Figure 2). These cavities are usually created by woodpeckers. The needles, limbs, and trunks of old conifers are good places to find insects and spiders, which male Flammulated owls feed to their young. Old forests, as opposed to forests composed of younger trees, are better suited to the needs of mother and father Flammulated owls. Without old forests to live in, Flammulated owls would have a hard time finding enough food to feed their young. Old forests need small fires that burn naturally on a periodic basis. When these small fires burn, they keep small brush and young trees from growing too big to compete with the older trees. You can see that there is a relationship between small, naturally occurring forest fires and Flammulated owl babies!
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