A pair of breeding barn owls (Tyto alba) has long been recognised as one of the most formidable rodent control allies a farmer can have. They can make a huge dent in rodent populations, especially if one farms in the grain- or grape-producing areas. Suitable breeding sites are not always available in the numbers needed, however, and owl boxes are therefore used to attract barn owls. But design, expense (if used in large numbers) and other factors are often a problem.
Working together, Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, Dr Rudy Erasmus and JoJo have come up with a superior, durable mass-produced barn owl box. Ready for installation, the JoJo owl box is a seamless unit, moulded from ultraviolet-stabilised, low-density polyethylene designed for durability. Each box can house the parents and up to six chicks. A ridge in the entrance keeps the eggs and chicks safely inside, while ventilation holes allow a breeze, discouraging bees from moving in.
The owl box can be hung out of harm’s way under a roof overhang against the south-facing side of a building or placed on top of a pole with a smooth surface to discourage cats, monkeys and snakes, and then planted under the shelter of a dense, evergreen tree. Boxes should not be placed less than 80m apart, especially if the owls can see the entrance of the other box. When prey is abundant, breeding pairs will be more tolerant, but during the non-breeding season, when food is scarcer, territorial conflict may occur.
The boxes carry an eight-year warranty and cost about R480 at JoJo distributors countrywide.