The Norman Transcript

Features

May 3, 2013

Silent but deadly — barn owls beneficial

(Continued)

NORMAN —

The boxes are generally about 2 feet high, 2 feet wide and about 18 inches deep and should face east, if possible. There are many designs and materials to choose from when constructing a nest box.

I work with countless landowners with questions about gopher control on their property.

Like most rodents, gophers teeth never stop growing, thus they gnaw continuously to maintain them. They chew utility and irrigation lines, plant roots, plumbing pipe and virtually anything else they come across. They also leave lawns, pastures, range and cropland bumpy due to the mounds they create.

While there are gopher poisons and traps available, Barn owls are a more elegant (and free) solution. Owls sweep silently through pastures and fields at night, locating rodents by sound when they are not visible. And they have a big appetite. One biologist documented 289 gopher skulls in a single barn owl nesting box.

Barn owls are cavity-nesting birds, meaning they prefer to nest in boxes, tree holes, barn lofts or attics. When struggling with Mother Nature’s pests, why not work with her rather than against her? Erecting a barn owl box may help alleviate your rodent problem in an inexpensive and effective manner.

In addition, barn owls have greater lethality on rodents than cats and inflict far less damage to non-target wildlife species. More information about purchasing or constructing barn owl boxes can be found online. Visit our website for more land and wildlife management ideas at oces.okstate.edu/cleveland/agriculture/wildlife-management-1.

Heath Herje is an agriculture educator with Cleveland County Cooperative Extension service.

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