Barn Owls & Kestrels to Manage Rodents

Barn Owls and Kestrels May be Enough to Manage Rodents

barn owls

The barn owl and kestrel make a one-two punch against rodent pests on farms and ranches. They do not compete with each other for territory, and barn owls feed at night while kestrels feed during the day. They can be attracted to farms and ranches with properly placed and managed nest boxes, which will not only help control rodents, but also help maintain the population of these important species.

The barn owl feeds voraciously on gophers, voles, and mice. In the spring during nesting, a family may consume 10 to 12 gophers per night. The barn owl population in the West is dwindling due to lack of nesting sites. Barn owls are not territorial with each other, so as many as 4 to 6 owl boxes can be used per 50 acres.

The kestrel is a small hawk that is an excellent predator of mice, voles, and large insects. Kestrels will return to maintained nesting boxes year after year, but are highly territorial.

See the NRCS/Hawk Watch/USU publication on attracting birds of prey.

-Marion Murray, IPM Project Leader