We had been noticing tiny teeth marks on our young seedlings planted in grassy areas small mouse-like rodents called voles use as habitat.
Last year, we attended a lecture at CONNECT where we learned rodents make up to 85% of a red-tail's diet and a family of barn owls will eat up to 1,000 voles during the 3-month breeding season. Intrigued, we wanted to see if we could convince the local birds to give us a hand.
Portland General Electric has a program to install old power poles to serve as raptor perches and osprey aeries for free. Lucas and I met with their representative to see if they could get their equipment into any of our StreamCare sites for installation. Luckily PGE could get their truck in to a few StreamCare sites, and they put in four raptor perches.
For sites that had limited access I found a lighter more nimble design using a metal T-post and galvanized iron pipe. Chris and I installed a perch of this type on one site as a prototype. On the day the perch was installed, fresh vole damage was observed on our plants, so happy hunting Mr. Redtail!
We will mostly be attracting red-tailed hawks with the perches, but one of our landowners reports that owls are using it too! We have also installed four barn owl boxes. We'll be observing and maintaining these structures and installing more if they prove successful. How will we know? There will be lots of pellets and the new plantings will have considerably less rodent damage.