As part of our commitment to sustainable farming, we encourage and protect a growing barn owl population at Kick Ranch.
Vineyards like many other agriculture settings are enticing to Pocket Gophers (Thomomys bottae) and California Voles (Microtus californicus). These subterranean rodents pose a significant threat to grapevines because of the damage they inflict on developing root systems and irrigation lines.
We placed owl boxes at Kick Ranch soon after we first planted our vines and we have placed more at Kick over the years. To encourage and protect nesting owls, we now have 18 owl boxes built and placed around the vineyard by John Schuster of Wild Wing Company in Cotati, California.
Recently, John spent time at Kick to survey the owl box population and clean out the boxes in anticipation of the 2015 nesting season. John reported back that 14 of the Kick owl boxes either have owls or showed signs of owls occupying them this year. A couple boxes had signs of kestrels. John also cleaned up our 24 bluebird and sallow boxes hat help keep in check flying and ground insects that can damage vines or carry host diseases.
With beneficial rains this Fall, we hope to have a strong healthy population of barn owls, bluebirds and swallows in patrol in 2015!