Thursday, April 26, 2012

Today I purchased 20 owl boxes from my friend Bruce Norton.  Years ago Bruce started a small business, Nature Condos, which recycles old fruit bins from Sunsweet Growers and allows high school students to earn scholarship money building the owl boxes in their industrial arts classes.  You can read about his enterprise here: Nature Condos Owl Boxes

Barn Owls will occupy the houses and are effective predators of pocket gophers (Thomomys sp.).  Gophers have become a plague to almond growers.  Because of our shift away from cultivation and flood irrigation to no-till and micro-irrigation, the gopher population has exploded.  Their root feeding activity frequently kills young trees and damages older trees.  Their burrowing activity produces mounds of soil that damage mowers and harvest equipment.  The mounds create clouds of dust when mowed.

On one ranch we are launching a full scale assault on these wretched creatures to see if we can actually reduce their population.  I will post more about this ongoing effort as the season progresses.

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