Ramona Wines & Vineyards owlbox-Pamo Valley Winery
For the past several weeks since the blog posted the story on the King Estate Winery and the collaboration with Cascades Raptor Center (archived blog post 10/17/11) I have been busy sending out an open letter to some of the vineyards in my county to see if their vineyards utilize barn owl boxes.
I have had several positive responses from them.
Out of 11 emails sent out 8 of them responded and do use owlboxes without the use of pesticides in their vineyards. One of the 8 uses falconery as a means (Hawley Vineyards and Winery)
"We have never used owl boxes simply because our vineyards are up in the hills, surrounded by woods that offer plenty of natural habitat for owls. Owls and raptors are extremely efficient rodent hunters and owl boxes, in the right situations, can be a great tool for establishing them in your area. However, my dad raises some concern about Great Horned Owls and Coopers Hawks learning they are good places to hunt smaller owls.
My father (and our winemaker- John Hawley) is a licensed falconer who has been using hawks in the vineyard for bird abatement and rodent control. He is currently training a two-month-old Red Tailed Hawk."
While I find this is good that they do not use pesticides and grow their grapes organically (CCOF Certified since 2006) I did ask him in another email to please reconsider at least one owlbox to provide a dry and safe place for a owl family to brood."
Peggy Evans Executive Director Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association wrote back:
Hi Mel & Syd-"Owl boxes (with hawk perches) are commonplace in the Temecula Valley.
I can't think of a vineyard that doesn't have at least one!"
Bill Smart from Dry Creek Winery responded-
Yes, Dry Creek Vineyard provides specialized housing (i.e. owl boxes) and shady platform perches designed to encourage birds of prey to adopt our vineyards as their feeding ground. Redtail hawks and barn owls do a great job of controlling gopher and rodent populations, without the need for chemical deterrents. Don Wallace, President of Dry Creek Vineyard said that we were the first winery in the Dry Creek Valley to install owl boxes which occurred back in 1992.
What I would like to see from these CA vineyards is to also calibrate with raptor centers or other US Wildlife Rehabilitators to provide a safe place for a release site for the many barn owls that have been injured and ready to fly free.
List of winerys contacted-
Dry Creek Winery - Healdsburg, CA
Ponte Winery - Temecula
Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards - Temecula
South Coast Winery - Temecula
Thornton Winery - Premium Wine Champagne from Temecula
Callaway Vineyards and Winery in the heart of Temecula Wine country
Tesoro Winery - Temecula
Leonesse Cellars - Temecula
Churon Winery- Temecula
Falkner Winery - Temecula
Casa Dumtz Winery Malibu -owned by Actor Emilio Estevez
To read my open letter
Open letter to Calif Wineries
To whom it may concern-
I am seeking information about Calif winery’s and vineyards for a blog that I publish within a small group of owl watchers, and would like to include the information I gather to further the cause of using Owl boxes as a means to educate growers on rodent control within their vineyards, orchards and farms. Owl Boxes provide a natural means and environmental safe way without the use of pesticides.
One of our main goals lies in education and awareness reducing the adverse impacts of pesticides on wildlife, groundwater and soil and, of course on people.
My question to your staff and growers is, Do you use Owl boxes in your vineyards?
If not, why?
Thank you for your time and timely response-
Our blog site: http://melandsydney.blogspot.com/
Traits of barn owls that make them uniquely well-suited to rodent control in vineyards-
• They tolerate other barn owls in their territory and can even be a colonial species with multiple nests in the same barn. They also occupy territory with great horned owls and other raptors, although occasional conflicts can occur with other raptors.
• They tolerate human activity. They will occupy tree cavities in a natural setting but will also occupy barns and human structures, so they are attracted to nest boxes.
• They have high reproductive rates, producing from four to seven chicks per nest, with two or more broods per year. They will nest during almost any month of the year in any location in the U.S. However, they do have high mortality rates.
• They have voracious appetites. Adults will eat two rodents per night in warm weather and up to four rodents per night in cold weather. Young birds in the nest will eat up to six rodents per night during their rapid growth stage. A barn owl family will consume 2,000 to 3,000 rodents annually. Young will stay in the nest for eight weeks after hatch, until they are able to fly.
BARN OWLS AND KESTRELS
BIOLOGICAL PEST CONTROL AGENTS
Rodents are responsible for extensive damage to agricultural crops
Kestrels by day, Barn owls by night = Less accidental secondary poisoning of hundreds of raptors after eating voles which are poisoned by the use of pesticides.