Barn Owls: The Secret Saviors of Napa Valley’s Vineyards

(dramatic music) – The average visitor in Napa
doesn’t look at vineyards and think of barn owls. They think of wine and wine-tasting, but owls are really a part
of this whole process. Walking up to an owl box and
hearing the babies hissing is pretty scary sounding. (owls hissing) And then you just pull out
this little fluffy owl. They’re gonna grow up to be
rodent devouring machines. (gentle upbeat music) My name is Carrie Wendt;
I’m a wildlife biologist. I’ve spent the last couple years driving around visiting
hundreds of owl boxes on 65 vineyards in Napa Valley to better understand how barn owls and vineyards can coexist. Without owls, the rodent
population would explode and they would cause a lot
more damage to vineyards. Here’s a couple of skulls
I pulled out of the box. This is proof that they’re eating rodents. Using barn owls to reduce
rodent populations on vineyards is the alternative way to kill rodents. Grow up to be big and strong. Eat lots of gophers. The mainstream, conventional
way of killing rodents is to apply rodenticides. Rodenticides are really harmful so using owls is
definitely the sustainable eco-friendly way to reduce rodents. (owl hissing) You have to have a special
permit to hand these bands and to be able to band birds. Each band is an individual number, so it’s an individual
identification for that one bird that won’t ever be on a different bird. My colleagues are currently using GPS tags and motion-detecting cameras
to paint a fuller picture of how barn owls may provide pest control services in vineyards. We’re banding them to see
where they’re nesting. When we capture the adult birds
to put GPS trackers on them, we want them to stay as calm as possible, so we put an adorable hat over their eyes. You wanna put that on her? We found this silly owl hat
and we thought it was perfect. There’s so many opportunities
for vineyard owners to enhance wildlife
habitat on their vineyards that’s mutually beneficial. And I think providing barn owl nest boxes on vineyards is a perfect example of how that relationship can flourish. (gentle upbeat music)

90 thoughts on “Barn Owls: The Secret Saviors of Napa Valley’s Vineyards

  1. Those barn owl are secretly working with basking sharks…[ like this comment if you got the reference ]

  2. Owls are incredible predators. I have watched Great Snowy Owls hunt on the Pacific northwest coast. Really fascinating animals. I bet those vineyards don't have many rodents running around while the owls are hunting.

  3. Intriguing. Are any animal rights activists arming the gophers to defend themselves against this Luftwaffe of barn owls? Or has Big Overly Oaked Wine managed to buy them all out?

  4. That's amazing, I never heard of this method. The owls are beautiful. Another interesting story, THANK YOU! 🙂

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  6. awesome! I'm a total bird nerd, raptors are amazing. what a great way to use natural predatory animals to control the rodent population instead of using dangerous poisons.

  7. Do their legs expand over time? If they do, is there a way for the tags to be readjusted, or do they somehow do it automatically?

  8. This is a great method for keeping the rodent numbers low. The owls get fed while keeping the vineyard healthy. Such a nice alternative compared to pesticides!

  9. There was a Barn owl sitting at my window in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. I never saw such owl in my life. That was the first and last time saw it and filmed it for a minute. Now, feeling how I missed it. Damn!. Here is the few sec. video of it.

  10. Didn't know birds hiss till I started working at a pet store. Quite frankly it scared the piss out of me the first time I heard it?

  11. What a unique pest control method. I had no idea that rodents were an issue for vineyards – you'd think it would be aphids or caterpillars or something.

  12. Am I only that thinks this is normal? It's pretty normal for farmers in my area anyway to encourage Owl habitats because they're great pest control.

  13. I love HONIG Wines! Some of the best value Cabernets out there. Always looking for better sustainable all natural farming techniques. You film very well Michael!

  14. If this vineyard was part of the terrible fire in Napa, I sure hope the owls were able to escape. They are beautiful and have a job.

  15. That was your very interesting article, here are a few more tips for how to make wine…
    Use the correct equipment. Things like plastic buckets and bins come in different grades of plastic. You must use the food-grade plastic products not the cheaper buckets you might use to clean the floor!
    If plastic buckets and bins start getting scratched and grazed, replace them. The grazes will start harbouring microbes and eventually you’ll have a spoilt batch of wine.
    If stirring the must (the initial mix of fruit and water etc.) in a bin, scald the spoon with boiling water first to quickly sterilise it.
    Fill and top up airlocks with cooled, boiled water – never straight from the sink.
    Avoid metal spoons and sieves with fermenting wine – i.e. after the yeast has been added. Sometimes they can taint the wine. Avoid wooden spoons, which are hard to sterilise – plastic is far better.
    Reusing wine bottles is fine, ask friends to save them for you and check with local pubs or restaurants who are often willing to give them to you. Wash out immediately as a clean bottle will be a lot easier to sterilise when you come to use them.
    Rack your wine to clear it before bottling. That is, using a syphon tube, suck up the wine from one demijohn into another leaving the sediment (called lees) behind. The tubes with a base and valve are cheap enough and a make this quicker. Allow the wine to settle for a week and repeat if necessary before bottling
    Never judge your wine by the taste as you bottle it. Most often you will think it is a disaster. Some wines can take 2 years to mature. As a general rule, maybe try a bottle after six months. If it tastes harsh, leave the rest for at least another six months.
    Allow time. Time is the great wine maker and you should never be in a rush. We’ve made wine that was nnine months in the demijohn before bottling and drunk it 3 years later. The following year it was even better!
    (Reference: Pavas grape plan site )

  16. Wine and owls…what a great combination..

    yes, those SGARs, 2nd gen rodenticides are a very bad thing, they enrich in food chain..and i ve seen the dead, poisoned owls on the web…sad and horrific sights…

    Owls, cavity-dwellers like barries, schreechies and barnies help too to prevent some very nasty rodent-borne diseases like HFRS, HPS…and even the plague that is endemic in California…

  17. I knew barn owls screech and scream, but I did not know that they hiss. My stupid self would've thought that they were snakes.

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