Long-eared Owl as a Biological Pest Controller.
(photo credit: ILAN YOSEF MORIYA)
Dr. Motti Charter and Professor Ido Itzhaki of Haifa University, together with Professor Ran Natan of the Hebrew University, are investigating the ability of long-eared owls, many of whom live in KKL-JNF forests, to act as biological control agents. The research is being carried out with the support of Kanfei KaKaL (“KKL-JNF Wings”), the unit within the organization that deals with ornithology.
The research seeks to examine whether or not the introduction of nesting baskets is likely to encourage long-eared owls, which usually make use of nests abandoned by hooded crows (Corvus cornix), to nest in forest fringes that border on farmland. To this end, ninety-six nesting baskets were last year placed in trees in the Jezreel Valley, Ramat Menashe and the Hula Valley.
During the last nesting season long-eared owls nested in seven of these baskets, common kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) nested in twenty-three of them, and mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) made use of two.
Future stages of the study will closely monitor the hunting habits of the long-eared owl in areas of farmland. The birds will be fitted with GPS tracking devices, and their feeding habits will be monitored by means of cameras placed close to their nests and by analysis of undigested morsels of food (regurgitated pellets) collected from the nests’ vicinity.
The research is currently in its initial stages, and updates on its development and findings will be reported in the future.
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