Owl Houses at Mavronero Farm

In December 2022, Mavronero Farm and BirdLife Cyprus joined forces to install two meticulously designed owl houses.

Tailored for Barn Owls (Tyto alba), these abodes, constructed from marine plywood, boast dimensions and designs ensuring comfort and safety. The intentional separation within the box provides shade during the day, while the entrance hole accommodates various bird species, including Common Kestrels, Little Owls, Cyprus Scops Owls, European Rollers, and Jackdaws.

The first inspection

Fast forward to May 2023, and the houses were inspected for visitors. Typically, no bird moves into a new house during the first season. However, contrary to expectations, the Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) had taken residence in both artificial nest boxes. The Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) is a small to medium-sized bird of prey belonging to the falcon family Falconidae. These birds, guided by factors like food availability and safety from predators, found sanctuary on our farm.

What makes the Mavronero Farm an ideal spot?

The absence of rodenticides is key. Barn Owls, being voracious rodent consumers, are susceptible to secondary poisoning. These chemicals accumulate in their bodies, affecting behavior and, eventually, leading to their demise. Barn Owls, whose natural habitats are diminishing, struggle to find ideal breeding grounds. Abandoned buildings, once their haven, are decreasing, making artificial nest boxes essential for their survival. These structures offer a secure breeding location, compensating for the loss of their traditional nesting spots.

Mavronero Farm, free from such toxins, becomes a safe haven for these magnificent birds.

Are there also benefits for the farm? Barn Owls are exceptional pest controllers. Research reveals that they predominantly feed on rodents, constituting 96% of their diet, and can consume up to 1000 rodents annually. During the breeding season, these birds patrol a 1 km radius around their nests, sometimes extending to 4.5 km. Farmers can thus reap the rewards of natural pest control, enhancing the farm’s ecological balance.

Looking ahead, what are the future plans for the farm?

According to Antaia Christou, Conservation Projects Officer at BirdLife Cyprus, the National Action Plan for the Barn Owl involves monitoring these boxes and collecting data on occupancy, eggs, and chicks. While two barn owl boxes suffice for now, there’s potential for more artificial nest boxes accommodating diverse species like Hoopoes, Little Owls, and European Rollers. Such initiatives, although beyond the scope of the current plan, align with BirdLife’s recommendation to foster a thriving avian community.

Mavronero Farm, with its owl houses, stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of agriculture and nature. Through these efforts, we are not only nurturing a safe haven for owls, but also reaping the benefits of their presence in our ecological tapestry.

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