The Benefits of Barn Owls

One of our favorite “raptors on the job” is the barn owl.

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Photo: Jerry Ting

We rarely see them because they’re nocturnal, and very quiet. But they’re among the best rodent-controlling predators we have, without any of the devastating long-term effects of poison.

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Artist: Susan Powers

This fascinating three-year study by researcher Mark Browning shows beyond a doubt that “barn owls provide a highly effective, inexpensive and non-toxic alternative to other methods.” Browning notes that “over the first two years, the large population of owls took 25,682 rodents at a cost of 26 cents per rodent, versus a cost of trapping at $8.11 per rodent.”

By putting up simple nesting boxes as well as planting oaks, one vineyard created a permanent barn owl “residency” and are now watching their gopher population drop. More and more people in rural and urban environments are doing the same to control local rodent populations.

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Photo: Dave Harper