Setting Up an Owl Box at E & M Farm

Share this post

Rodents, such as gophers and voles, eat the roots of the fruit trees which can damage or kill the trees, so rodent control is a big issue for farmers. Owls are predators that can control rodent populations in orchards naturally without the use of pesticides and chemicals.  So how do farmers sign up owls for the job? Install owl boxes.  As part of The FruitGuys Farm Steward program, we donated owl boxes to an east coast and west coast farm to encourage owl residency.  Here is a  video we made of the installation of an owl box at E & M Farm in Vernalis California, an  organic white peach and white nectarine farm,  with farmer Ed Magee and his family. The owl boxes were made by the woodworking department of a local school.

As of June, there are four owl boxes installed on E & M farm and we are happy to report that all have been inhabited by barn owls.

According to Dan Mummert, a Southeast Wildlife Diversity Biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, who we worked with during our installation of an owl box on Kauffman’s Fruit Farm in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, barn owls typically pair up, one pair per house, or barn, then they mate and raise their baby owls. Once the baby owls are old enough, they fly off and find a new home, mate up, and the cycle continues. Ed doesn’t think that any of the couples in his boxes have reproduced just yet at E & M Farm. They were probably youngsters themselves when they moved in.

Farmer Ed Magee says that putting the owl boxes up has certainly increased the diversity of the farm’s eco-system. He can hear the owls flying around, and the owls are extremely effective at pest control, eating gophers and voles. Ed, his wife Melissa, and their kids check the owl pellets to see what the owls have been eating. The owls are nocturnal, so it is hard to take photos of them but Ed says theyy can hear the owls screeching and making clicking noises to communicate with each other. Occasionally, they will peek out of the owl box window when Ed drives by in the tractor, but they are mostly reclusive.

We asked Ed how hawks that also live in the area interact with the owls. Ed says that since the owls are nocturnal, there doesn’t appear to be any territorial issues between the two birds. The boxes are designed for barn owls only, there is a board inside after the entry window that helps to protect them and their baby owls from predators. Hawks, as well as great horned owls, will hunt barn owls. The Magees also have six cats on the farm, and the owls don’t seem to bother the cats either.

On the west coast, we’re looking forward to enjoying E & M Farm organic peaches and nectarines in a few more weeks. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this video of Ed’s ingenious approach to mounting the owl boxes on tall poles using man power and leverage.

This article is by Karla Milosevich & Rebecca North

 

Subscribe to the WEEKLY BITE

* indicates required

 

Recent GoodWorks articles:

Eight million fruit servings donated in five years, thanks to our clients
February 26, 2019
Holiday fruit donations for those in need
October 29, 2018
Enjoy this prized Sonoma County apple—and help support the farmers who grow it
July 26, 2018
13 farms in 11 states awarded grants from The FruitGuys Community Fund
April 20, 2018
A record year for donations and disaster relief
February 22, 2018
The FruitGuys boosts small farms’ impact on environmental, economic, and community health
April 12, 2017
The FruitGuys donated 2 million servings of fresh produce in 2016
January 24, 2017
Meet The FruitGuys Community Fund’s class of 2016
April 14, 2016
Your donation will fund a small farm’s sustainability project
March 24, 2016
Community Fund launches Barnraiser to help more farms
February 24, 2016

More recent articles:

Summer muffin recipe
July 18, 2019
Assumptions can harm both recruiters and job seekers
July 16, 2019
Simple summer salad dressing recipes
July 11, 2019
Summer fruit varieties and when you’ll be seeing them
July 9, 2019
Easy summer pasta recipe
July 4, 2019
How to create a dress code that works all year
July 2, 2019
More employers are getting serious about time off
June 27, 2019
Food:
Two Easy Recipes for Canning Stone Fruit
June 25, 2019
Food:
The health benefits of honeydew melon
June 20, 2019
Food:
The delicate flavors of white peaches and nectarines
June 13, 2019

About Us

Our online magazine offers a taste of workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. It features recipes for easy, delicious work meals and tips on quick office workouts. It's also an opportunity to learn about our GoodWorks program, which helps those in need in our communities and supports small, sustainable farms.