I have to preface this post by stating that we live on the edge of our city, on the border where the houses meet the open grasslands and oak forests beyond. We love living here because of the views and the wildlife that visit us. However, we’re not fond of one visitor… the rats. No matter how many holes we have patched up, they continue to find a way into the walls and attic of our home (though, luckily, not actually inside our living area). We also contend with gophers, deer mice, and voles.
Which brings me to… owls. I hear the great horned owls who-who-ing in the evening, night, and morning, and occasionally we’ll see one, right before dark. But what I’m interested in is the barn owl. I want to have a barn owl family patrolling the area around our home. I read in this article from SF Gate, “Barn owls all too happy to be your rat catchers / Birds a natural and chemical-free way to control pests”, that family of five barn owls can “can account for 3,000 rodents in one breeding season.” I really, really want a barn owl family living nearby! I’ve seen and heard them in the woods behind our neighborhood before, so I know this is a possibility.
Now that I’ve begun to do a bit of research on the subject of using owls to control pest, I’ve found that this isn’t so crazy. Check out what this group of birders in nearby Berkeley is doing… Keep Barn Owls in Berkeley! This group is associated with this larger project founded in Marin… The Hungry Owl Project, which has the following mission:
encouraging natural predators through conservation of habitat,
nest boxes, and education.”