Pacific Gas and Electric Company Provides Free Owl Boxes

In a joint effort that benefits the growers, the owls, and the utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Vineyard Team have collaborated over the past six years in efforts to provide barn owl nest boxes. The Owl Safety Program provides nest boxes free of charge to attendees of the Sustainable Ag Expo, held November 13 to 15, 2017 in San Luis Obispo, California, and provides growers with practical information from owl researchers on where to locate nest boxes, and proven methods for attracting and maintaining barn owls.

 

Vintners in California have been using barn owls for rodent control for decades. Take a drive anywhere around wine country and you will see numerous boxes installed on poles and posts for attracting these large, voracious rodent predators. Over time, some of these boxes were inadvertently installed in the vicinity of power lines since so many vineyards border roads and rights of way.

 

This has caused problems for both barn owls and the utility company. When located too near the lines, chances are greater that barn owl mortalities can occur from the high voltage. Owls have even been known to attempt to nest inside transformers. In both cases, expensive and time consuming power outages can result.

 

“We’re trying to educate customers and get the word out that utility poles are not the appropriate place to install nest boxes.” said Mike Best, PG&E’s Avian Protection Plan Program Manager.


The Barn Owl Box Company will supply its molded plastic barn owl boxes to the project this year. Barn owls, at 12 to 14 inches high, need large cavities to nest in. Since these can be scarce, owls have been known to nest in feed hoppers, deer blinds, old barrels left on the ground, crevices in lava beds, holes in riverbanks, dead palm fronds, cisterns, and even a hundred feet deep in abandoned mines. Some of these locations may not result in successful nesting, so the installation of nest boxes is an excellent conservation move and provides an efficient rodent control method for vintners.

 

Learn more about rodent control and pick up your free owl box at the Sustainable Ag Expo. To learn more visit sustainableagexpo.org.

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