Barn owls help wine drinkers!

Next time you drink a glass of California Chardonnay say a silent thank you to the Barn owls.  Farmers in California are starting to use Barn Owls to control the rampant gopher population. Farmers use owls to kill gophers.

Barn owls are gopher eating machines:
In warm weather they'll eat two rodents per night and in cold weather that increases to three or four per night. Once we have babies in the nest that increases to one per night when the chicks are just hatched and up to six per night when the young are about ready to fledge!
Barn owls are ideal for land managment as human interaction does not seem to bother them.  This is not withstanding their highly developed sense of hearing - they can actually hear gophers chewing on roots under the ground.  Additionally, Barn owls aren't territorial and unlike other raptors they don't spend the bulk of their time chasing competitors away.

I would encourage anyone who has heard a Barn owl in their area or who has suitable habitat to put up a Barn owl box. 

Here are a couple of sites that may be useful:
Nesting box - Barn owl box company
Biology - http://owling.com/Barn_nh.htm
Box placement and maintenance - http://www.wildlife-center.org/where%20and%20how%20to%20hang%20a%20nesting%20box.htm

The human side of blogging

One of my blog features that I love the most is when readers stop by and introduce themselves.  I've actually had the opportunity to meet a few of these people in 'real' life, but even in the cases where I haven't, it's nice to know a little more about the people that stop by my blog.

If you haven't done so please introduce yourself by clicking here.


Itching to find a 'winter owl'

As I typed the heading I realized that the title of this post is incorrect as I have already bagged a Snowy owl, which clearly qualifies as a 'winter owl'.  The Snowy I tracked down a couple of weeks ago was actually my first  Snowy in NJ.  So what other winter owls are out there.  On the list is Saw whet, Long eared and Short eared owl.  I have struck out on Saw whet for several years now and this year doesn't look very promising based on the slow migration rates in the states around us.

Along with the typical winter owls I am also hoping that a Great horned owl nesting spot will be used this year.  Anyway, hoping to do some owling this upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.  If I manage to track down an owl it will be earliest winter owl I've managed to track down.

Other reading:
Who's hoo?  The owls of New Jersey 


Land trust preserves in NJ & PA

If you’re in NJ or PA and looking for some great birding spots make sure to check out the nature preserves managed by the Natural Lands Trust - a non-profit organization that obtains and sustains throughout Southern NJ and Eastern PA. There are two preserves in New Jersey (one in Millville and one in Newport) which are open to the public, free of charge, every day from dawn until dusk. Both of these preserves have been listed as “Important Birding Areas” and there are many birding outlooks on the trails.  

For more info on the NJ and PA preserves check out www.natlands.org

Thanks to Chelsea Mathers for bringing this to my attention!