Dec. 12, 2016, Phoenix, AZ – CalPortland is “perched” as the rock products industry’s first company to safely construct burrowing owl habitats within one of their mining sites. A large community housing project is underway developing the infrastructure required to support the residents in a safe, comfortable, environmentally efficient manner. Only the incoming residents will be Burrowing Owls.
In the absence of suitable homes created by ground squirrels, prairie dogs, desert tortoises, new agriculture areas and development, the burrowing owl habitat has diminished and these little feathered friends require some assistance to ensure a prolific future.
Rebecca Kervella, CalPortland’s environmental specialist for Arizona, is the person “whoo” hatched the idea of building a habitat at one of the company’s sites to help these small, sandy colored owls with bright-yellow eyes. The idea was received with much enthusiasm and support by Scott Hughes, CalPortland’s environmental manager for Arizona, along with support from the company’s management.
In cooperation with Wild at Heart Raptor Rescue, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and Greg Clark (manager of the burrowing owl program), the plan is turning into reality. Ground breaking occurred on November 30th and excavation of twelve burrowing sites began in an area the size of a football field. On the morning of December 10th the organizers and a crew of forty-eight volunteers constructed sixty-four burrows for this master planned community of subterranean dwellers.
Burrowing owls have been known to nest in piles of PVC pipe and other lairs unintentionally provided by humans. They live in open, treeless areas with low, sparse vegetation. The owls can be found in deserts, and steppe environments, on golf courses and agricultural fields, so CalPortland’s mining site turned out to be a perfect habitat. The owls eat bugs, rodents and other pests, therefore the location should provide sumptuous culinary opportunities for the residents as they go about raising their young and carrying on community business.
Female burrowing owls commonly travel and find several mates over their lifetime, while male owls usually remain in their territory courting other females. Upon filling the nest with eggs, hens stay in or near the nest burrow until the chicks fledge, while males stand guard at a nearby burrow or perch. Owlets play-hunt by jumping on each other, on prey brought by their parents, and on other objects around the burrow.
In mid-March the owls will be released into their new burrow community. The burrows will be covered by a tent for the one month. The owls will be fed “mousicles” while they are getting comfortable in their new homes. After a month, the tents will be removed and the owls are free to come and go as they please. The organizers are optimistic that other burrowing owls in the area will quickly take up residence in the parliament. This particular specie of owl is listed as endangered in Canada and as a species with special protection in Mexico.
This conservation initiative strongly supports CalPortland’s value proposition of being an environmental leader in the rock products industry. Just another feather in our cap you might say! (Owl feather that is).
CalPortland Company is a major producer of cement, ready mixed concrete, aggregates, concrete products and asphalt in the western United States and Canada. Founded in 1891 with the principle of providing unsurpassed quality, CalPortland remains a leader in the industry through its commitment to quality, safety, customer service, technical excellence and environmental leadership. The company maintains its headquarters in Glendora, California and operates in the Western U.S. and two Canadian Provinces. For more information about CalPortland Company, visit www.calportland.com.