Barn owls

This past week has been a rather interesting one for me. Apart from the interrupting interaction of the second cut hay harvest, I managed to complete the fencing of the large yard for the dozen hens that I like to let free range as much as possible.

Circling three sides of the building, the yard encloses roughly 1,400 square feet. The main fence is 6 foot 2 inch high chain-link that is double fenced with  a smaller woven wire that is buried six inches deep and comes out a full foot underground. That is to discourage predators that insist on digging under the fence. 

In addition to that I nosed around and found enough odds and ends of used lumber with which I was able to build, paint in matching colour and erect just below the east end of the building’s roof peak a large bird house suitable for barn owls. It is my hope that they will move in and control the mouse population that migrates from the surrounding long grass meadow to pilfer the scratch grain that is scattered for the hens.

The barn owl is a small nocturnal raptor weighing not often more than a pound, yet it has a wingspan often greater than three feet, which are made up of soft, fringed feathers for silent flight while hunting.

Its diet by choice is rodents, which it can locate in total darkness by sound and sight.

Its face resembles a satellite dish, capable of picking up faint sounds, surrounds night vision eyes, and by having one ear positioned slightly higher than the other it gives three dimensional hearing. It has a sharp beak and talons capable of killing and tearing apart prey.

From what I have been able to read they lay three to ten eggs, raising young almost year round, and are capable of destroying upward of a thousand mice or rats each nesting season. I know they are in the area as I saw one in the old heritage barn before the hurricane demolished it. It is my hope that they will be the pesticide-free answer to a rodent problem.

So there you have it folks. Wish me luck.

Take care, ‘cause we care.



Barrie Hopkins