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Charismatic barred owls bring Clemson neighborhood together

Written by Nick Brinkerhoff

Owls bringing a community together? That might sound unlikely. But in a community in Clemson, South Carolina, that’s exactly what’s happening.

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The original Nextdoor post seeking barred owls to study in Clemson

Clemson University graduate student Marion Clement was on the pursuit to find barred owls to study for her master’s thesis project (funded by the Margaret H. Lloyd SmartState Project & the Clemson Creative Inquiry Program) about why they are thriving in urban landscapes in the South Carolina upstate. In order to understand the local owls and their ecology for her project, Clement needed to be able to locate and track the owls. However, finding and accessing the owls in residential neighborhoods proved to be a bit of a challenge due to being on private property.

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Marion Clement & Winston. Photo by Clinton Colmenares

That’s when Clement turned to Nextdoor. Pat Layton, Former Director of the School of Agricultural, Forest, and Environmental Sciences, suggested the idea to post on Nextdoor to see if anyone in the area could help with pointing Clement in the right direction to find owls to study. To their surprise, Layton received an overwhelming response on her post from neighbors that had seen or heard owls and were very eager to participate in the project.

Soon after, Clement began to work with local homeowners and their backyard owls. Winston, Wilma, Homer, and Houdini were owls all named by residents who participated in the project. Over the course of the project, Clement frequently meets with residents, sharing her research findings all while the residents get to experience her process of trapping and tracking the birds firsthand. Additionally, her project is helping the community get to know the birds and their personalities, with residents gaining a newfound appreciation and awareness to their land and how it affects the owls.

By using Nextdoor, Clement is able to successfully conduct her research and study these highly charismatic birds in her community, all while creating a bonding experience with her community. Now that’s something to hoot about!

You can learn more about her project on her website as well as the project’s Facebook page. This project was started by the Margaret Lloyd Endowment as part of its urban ecology and restoration mission; which strives to promote a sustainable future with wildlife and wild areas. Margaret Lloyd was a generous person who cared about the role of nature in people’s lives and connecting them with it, every day. 

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Marion (left), Winston (middle) and Will (right), son of homeowner Tanya Hyatt. Photo by Kevin Peters.

 

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