SNN (ScrollingNetworkNews) ✿ ✿ Our Mel and Sydney returned to their nesting box with plenty of bonding occurring..but after 2.5 months of Sydney in the box from Dec 2013 to mid Feb 2014, the lack of prey gifts from Mel ( perhaps due to the severe and historic drought underway in California)and they have forgone the nesting process this year as many other raptors ✿ Compared to other owls of similar size, the Barn Owl has a much higher metabolic rate, requiring relatively more food. Pound for pound, Barn Owls consume more rodents – often regarded as pests by humans – than possibly any other creature. ✿ We remind viewers that sometimes owlets may not survive - the parents will dispose of things in "The Owl Way" -viewer discretion is advised, this is nature and the "Owl way". ✿ ~ ✿ “Animals, like us, are living souls. They are not things. They are not objects. Neither are they human. Yet they mourn. They love. They dance. They suffer. They know the peaks and chasms of being.” ― Gary Kowalski, The Souls of Animals ✿ Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." ~ E.O. Wilson

Saturday, October 22, 2011

FL Everglades

We have all heard about the use of Barn owl boxes being used in the vineyards, but did you know that boxes are being used in other types of California agriculture, including pecan, walnut, and citrus groves and are finding barn owls to be useful additions to sustain their agriculture.

Even in the FL Everglades.
Sugar cane growers in the vast Florida Everglades Agricultural area tried for years to rid themselves of the North American Barn Owl.

Now they're inviting owls back.

Growers used to think the Barn Owl hunters were a nuisance, leaving behind a nasty mess in barns, silos, pump houses and on equipment. But now the messy pellets provide clues to the owls' newfound popularity.

Their problem?

Cotton rats and marsh rabbits that attack the 430,000 acres of Florida cane fields at night. They munch down on the sweet stalks, causing more than $30 million in damage a year.
On top of that, growers use to spend from $5 to $10 an acre on chemicals to try to kill the rodents.
Nature offers one of the best answers ... the barn owl

But the Everglades Agricultural area is an old swamp, with few trees and structures to encourage the owls to nest , pump houses dotted along the networks of canals that weave through sugarcane fields were long popular as nesting sites. But these pump houses are disappearing now that canal irrigation is automated.
So, even though growers now want the owl around, "the owls really had no where to go". The answer is installation of nest boxes designed especially for the owls. The plan is to put as many boxes as possible, to help grow the owl population.
Over the past 10-15 years, members of the EAA (Everglades Agricultural Area) community have also installed artificial nest boxes throughout the Palm Beach County to increase the regional density of Barn Owls in the FL Everglades.

Owl Prowl 2011
A group of students in an all day hands on field trip where they learn about south Florida agriculture, barn owls, build and raise an owl box, dissect owl pellets, and go on an owl prowl.
Barn Owls also provide a unique opportunity for local students to learn about the ecology of the EAA in a hands-on manner. The students also have built many of the barn owl nest boxes, and thus have gained an appreciation for ecologically friendly agricultural practices.