Israel leads the way using Barn Owls and Kestrels to replace Rodenticides

In 2013 a male Barn Owl, with two females (bigamy) and 17 nestlings that fledged, out of the 20 eggs that were laid in an abandoned waterhole on the Judean Plain. As far as we know, this is the first documented case in Israel and perhaps in the world. The breeding cycle and the photographs were recorded by Ezra Haddad, an inspector of the Israel Nature & Parks Authority. The national project on the use of Barn Owls and Kestrels as biological pest control agents in agriculture celebrates its 6th year (2008-2013) and the erection of 3,000 nesting boxes!

In 2013 a male Barn Owl, with two females (bigamy) and 17 nestlings that fledged, out of the 20 eggs that were laid in an abandoned waterhole on the Judean Plain.

The 2 females incubating the 20 eggs together.


The Barn Owl Project was created in the field. Scientists and bird lovers understood the benefits of the Barn Owl to agriculture, erected nesting boxes in agricultural fields.

The enterprise proved to be successful and it was expanded to become the national model for biological pest control using Barn Owls and Kestrels that was also expanded to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

One of the 3,000 nesting boxes erected all over Israel. (Photo: Itzik Eitan)

The national project is under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Hoopoe Foundation, Tel Aviv University and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, and it covers all sections of the country.

Nesting boxes are erected in agricultural fields and their numbers are increasing. Today, thanks to the fruitful cooperation with the farmers, we can be proud of the 3,000 nesting boxes in use.

The team working on the project includes professional birders in the field, developing the contact with the farmers, monitoring the nesting boxes, leading research, increasing awareness and educational activities.

The male observing his two mates in the waterhole (Photos: Ezra Haddad)

In 2013 the Barn Owls in the Jezreel Valley were thriving and about 92% of the breeding pairs successfully raised at least one nestling. Staistics on the average number of nestlings in a nest in the different areas of Israel, where at least one nestling fledged from the nest:

Western Galilee: 3.7
Bet Shean Valley: 2.6
Golan: 5.7
Sharon: 2.8
Hula Valley: 5.8
Jezreel Valley: 6.1
Judea: 4.9
Negev: 6.1

The number of nestlings raised also changes in the different areas. In some areas the number of nestlings that fledged ranged from 5.7 to 6.1 nestlings (the Hula, Negev, Jezreel Valley, Golan), while in the other areas the number was between 2.6 to 4.9 nestlings. (Beit Shean valley).

The year 2013 was a special year for the Barn Owls in the Negev. During this period the occupation rate of the nesting boxes in the Western Negev rose from 35% (in 2010-2012) to 66%, and the average number of nestlings that fledged rose from 4 nestlings in a nest to 5.4.

Cooperation between Israel, Jordan and Palestine

This year we organized conferences in Jordan and Israel on the use of Barn Owls and Kestrels as biological pest control agents under the auspices of General Mansour Abu Rashid and the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The contacts that were made are a model for regional cooperation, professional and effective, as well as for social connections between nations.

40 Arab farmers from Israel with another 40 farmers from Jordan & the Palestinian Authority enjoying lunch together at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. Another special shared experience.

The warm relationship among the representatives of the three countries encouraged a different attitude to the Barn Owls, and, from being a sworn enemy, it became appreciated and blessed, especially in the agricultural fields of Jordan and the Palestinian areas.

The Barn Owl is useful to the farmers who have warmly accepted its existence and have become ambassadors of biological pest control instead of the intensive use of chemical pesticides.

As an example of the change in perception, a farmer from the Jordan Valley, Jordan, who took part in the meeting exclaimed: “I looked into its eyes (of the Barn Owl) and fell in love with it”.

40 new Arab farmers from the Bet Netufa Valley in the Galilee at a training course each received the book on the Barn Owls in Arabic. (Photos: Yossi Leshem)

This article was first published in the Newsletter from Israel Number 13 February 2014. The article was then republished by Focusing on Wildlife.

Israel Barn Owl Web Cam

 Raptor Politics wishes to thank Professor Yossi Leshem, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Bird Migration in Latrun, for allowing this inspiring article to be republishing here..

http://www.birds.org.il/he/index.aspx

2 comments to Israel leads the way using Barn Owls and Kestrels to replace Rodenticides

  • John Miles

    3rd world countries like Britain should learn from this and create sites in Britain to use owls and birds of prey in the proper way instead of poisoning them. 92% of Barn Owls have been found with poison in their body in this country. What a disgrace we are

  • We certainly are a disgrace in our treatment of Wildlife but I don’t think it will improve by residents? Describing us as ‘third world. ‘We might agree with you but We could’nt possibly say so.