Greg Schultz
 
January 15, 2015 | Greg Schultz

Owl Box

Debbie recently completed the Land Steward Program offered by the Oregon State University Extension Service. http://extension.oregonstate.edu.  The program is designed to help landowners learn ways to create healthy environments on their property and to enhance the natural beauty of their land.  The very interesting topics included living in wild-fire prone areas, noxious weed eradication, wildlife habitat, and riparian area management.  She learned about pasture management, tree health, water conservation, and pest control.

One helpful session covered the use of natural predators for rodent control.  Pocket gophers, moles, and voles are abundant in vineyards and can do extensive damage to the vines and irrigation systems if not controlled.  Populations can be controlled by baiting or trapping, but more sustainable approaches also exist including hawks, feral cats, and barn owls.  

One of Debbie's field trips was to the Hillers' property in Ashland.  Ron and Pam have beautiful property and are veteran land stewards.  They have an extensive rainwater catchment system that they use for irrigation.  They also have been successful in attracting barn owls to their property by strategically locating several owl boxes. There has been a noticeable reduction in gopher activity since the arrival of the owls.

At the last Land Steward class, Ron donated a barn owl box to the class for a raffle.  Debbie did not win the raffle, but talked with Ron about instructions on how to build one for ourselves.  The next day, we got a phone call:  "I had the materials and a little extra time, so I built you one. Come and get it!".  Many thanks to Ron!!!

Debbie researched best locations for mounting the box, and on one cold, wet, wintry day, we installed the box on the perimeter fence between our vineyard and pasture about 8 feet off the ground.  

Our hopes are that a family will take up residence and raise their young this spring and summer.  According to "Build a Barn Owl Box" by Wade, Pauser, and Altknecht, a clutch of six owlets consumes on average 70 pounds of rodents in the few months between hatching and fledging. Stay tuned...

 

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