One of the Model Farm’s objectives is reducing the use of pesticides against rodents.
Barn owls are known to be key players in rodent control but as wild birds, their nesting areas are restricted to natural environments and therefore limited.
One way to increase the owl population is by placing man-made nest-boxes in additional locations.
The ongoing national initiative to employ owls as a biological anti-pest power includes an annual survey of nest-boxes located throughout the country. This year it was veteran-duo Kobi Merom and Rami Haviv tasked with surveying Newe Ya’ar and checking up on the nest-box placed in the orchard by Dr. Doron Holland and Kamal Khatib. Owls have nested in this box for several consecutive years now.
This year, the survey team found in it three subadults and no parents. The young birds were banded, weighed and measured before being carefully returned to the nest-box.
Three additional nest-boxes were placed throughout the agricultural areas of Newe Ya’ar surrounding the Model Farm in the past year. One has already been occupied but was found empty at the time of the visit. The survey team collected large amounts of dropping pellets from the nest-box for analysis of the small animals being eaten by the owls.
Text by Ronen Kfir