Owls to the rescue: Nesting boxes attract the predatory birds that control rodents
"“A lot of predators eat rodents, but we were looking for population sustainability, low maintenance, tolerance to human activity and measurable results,” he said.
Enter the distinctive white heart-shaped face of the common barn owl: 13 to 15 inches in height, wingspan of nearly 3 feet, the world’s most common owl species and one of the most widespread of all birds.
“The barn owl suited our purposes very well,” said Mr. Browning. “They’re cavity nesters, fledge four to seven young and have low mortality rate when food is abundant. And — this was important for us — barn owls tend to form colonies in places where there is a lot of food. My idea was establish barn owl colonies in agricultural areas as an alternative means of rodent control.”
Here are free plans to build your own barn owl nestbox out of wood:
That original link is fascinating with regard to the research done into what owls want and need in a nesting box. But I wasn't as impressed with the whole approach of "now that we know what owls need, we'll make a patented thing out of polyethelyne plastic that will never rot or need maintenance because that's what industrial agriculture wants and needs" that is described in the article.
Then it occurred to me: patent law protection prevents the commercial exploitation of the patent. I believe it would violate the patent to, say, make an identical nest box out of natural materials and sell it for commercial gain. But so far as I know, there's nothing in patent law that would prevent an individual permie from making a wooden version of these nest boxes for personal use. So I thought to myself "Self", I thought, "if there's a patent, doesn't that mean the design of the fancy plastic owl box has to be in the patent application? And isn't that a matter of public record, on the US Patent And Trademark Office website?"
Why, yes. Yes, it is. It's in horrifying legalese, but there are drawings and very specific technical specifications:
All the drawings and stuff are at that link. Maybe somebody will find this stuff useful.
Agreed. Not crazy about the plastic owl house thing - especially the cost. If you really want more owls, you needs lots of houses, and the cost seems prohibitive, but it probably has its place.
If you want to make a true difference, I feel that you need a more complete program.
For example, In our neck of the woods, there is a local raptor conservation group named Hawk Mountain.
They have a program helping/studying the threatened American Kestrel, a Blue Jay-sized raptor/hawk. They offer plans to make your own nestbox, a program to sponser a nestbox, a webcam in a Kestrel nextbox, a Kestrel coloring book for kids, and sell the wooden nestbox kits in their small store. This is also tied to research program studying the cute little buggers.
Here are details on the program: https://www.hawkmountain.org/science/raptor-research-programs/american-kestrel-reproductive-ecology/page.aspx?id=3469
Here are lots of details on kestrels: http://www.hawkmountain.org/raptorpedia/hawks-at-hawk-mountain/hawk-species-at-hawk-mountain/american-kestrel/page.aspx?id=498
Here is the nestbox program if you want to make your own nestbox: http://www.hawkmountain.org/science/research/kestrel-nestbox-program/page.aspx?id=301
When poking around their site, it also looks like there is a nestbox cam for Barn Owls here: http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/42/Barn_Owls/
- There is an owl live right now
Dan Boone wrote:...
Then it occurred to me: patent law protection prevents the commercial exploitation of the patent. I believe it would violate the patent to, say, make an identical nest box out of natural materials and sell it for commercial gain. But so far as I know, there's nothing in patent law that would prevent an individual permie from making a wooden version of these nest boxes for personal use.
Not so Dan. Patent law is quite restrictive. It gives the patent holder the exclusive right to the patented invention. Legally you can't build one of these yourself even for personal use unless you negotiate a license with the rights-owner. This is true even if by chance you came up with the same invention independently. However, what's legal and what's practical can be very different things. I would think you quite safe from a law suit if you decided to build one of these yourself, even if you posted pics here on Permies. But that's not legal advice and I'm no lawyer. Ex-girlfriend was a patent examiner so I picked up a little knowledge (a dangerous thing, as we all know).
Do you have a safe place for them to sleep? I lock mine up at night but fully free range during the day (they don't even have a run). I have only lost one bird at night and that was from something digging under a weak spot in my pen. I have several different types of owls around me (I can hear their calls at night so they live close by) but have never lost a bird to one. I have lost quite a few during the day though. Dogs and hawks are the biggest threat during the day but at night we would have owls, fox, raccoons, opossums, bears, and all sorts of things to deal with so I lock them up...
R Scott wrote:This is a balance issue for those of us with free range poultry. I suppose a night hunter is better than hawks, but I still don't know what the right answer is...