Nesting owls, specifically hawks and other birds of prey identified as raptors, are currently being welcomed onto California vineyards for their skill in terms of catching rats, vole-estation, and gopher-gobbling, and researchers are currently investigating the effect of these strategies are searching for encouraging outcomes.

Good News Network report said California vintners "were proud of the certain je ne sais quoi," inherent with their wines which turned Napa into a world-class destination for growing grapes.

However, they were using ultra-toxic "rodenticide," a poison type formerly used to kill mice and voles munching on vines.

The said poison had turned out to be an industry-standard in the state up to the 1980s when raptors, trapping, and other more holistic approaches turned very famous.

According to Napa Green, a nonprofit organization, a trend toward chemical-free farming statewide is reflected in organic winegrape acreage's threefold increase since 2005, with the number of organic acres that doubled in only the past 10 YEARS.

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Science Times - California Vineyards Have Gone Chemical-Free; Wine Makers Now Use Nesting Owls to Protect Their Veins, an Advantage for Wine Production
(Photo: Brocken Inaglory on Wikimedia Commons)
Vineyards in Napa Valley


Barn Owl

One of the most efficient pest controllers of the world is the barn owl, which is found on six of the seven continents and is capable of eating around 3,400 rodents every year.

Matt Johnson, a Humboldt State wild professor, initiated the program several years ago to examine raptor pest control in vineyards and researched the results.

One of his studies discovered that more than 70 California winemakers, four-fifths of them deliberately invited owls into their vineyard by building nest boxes. On the webpage of his department, Johnson wrote they are working mainly in Napa Valley, where there are more than "300 barn owl nest boxes."

Meanwhile, a local ornithologist named John Robinson said one could put a barn owl nest box in the exact site where he thinks he has a problem with the small mammals. Then, in these sites, the owls will begin to use that site.

Barn Owls and Traps Instead of Pesticides

Johnson, together with his graduate students, have discovered that barn owls like their boxes to sit roughly nine feet off the ground, with face away from the sun next to an "unkempt field," and if possible, far from forest acres.

Early studies have suggested that more vintners may use barn owls and even traps, compared to pesticides, although how much pesticide, as described in the UAV-IQ site, use was avoided favoring the owls is unknown.

As indicated in the Bay Nature report, all incentives are there, although using owls is much less expensive than trapping, 26 cents for each rodent against $8.11. More so, it is also helping a stunning group of species to thrive.

Specifically, Ventura County uses birds, including hawks, falcons, and owls, rather than rodenticides, across almost a hundred dikes and dams, like the burrowing of the rodents, can damage the structures.

The Ventura County Watershed Protection Department reported a cost savings of more than $200,000 for each channel mile than traps.

The owls contribute to winemakers in keeping costs low, not to mention keeping their wine, be it red or wine, "green," a delicious and pleasant result that, reflecting the majesty of the famous valley, as well as its vineyards.

Related report about barn owls is shown on Great Big Story's Youtube video below:

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