Birds of prey- such as falcons, hawks, and owls- can provide valuable pest control of vertebrate pests (like rodents and pest birds). We work to understand the lives of raptors that visit our farming landscapes, how to protect them, and how valuable those pest control services are.
We found that reintroducing the Kārearea| NZ falcon into vineyards in NZ caused a ~70% reduction in bird damage to wine grapes, and that falcons living in vineyards appear to do as well as their counterparts in NZ's high country.
Barn owl ecology
We have been monitoring barn owls breeding in California's central valley since 2013, and have learned a lot about their lives.
Rodent pest control
We found that over 99% of barn owl diet in California's central valley consists of species farmers consider pests. By our calculations, one family of barn owls will eat 98kg (215 lbs!) of rodent prey each year- that's almost 3,000 rodents.
Kestrel nest box management
Jess Schlarbaum installed over 80 American Kestrel boxes on farms in California for her masters thesis research. She had a few pairs of kestrels successfully nest, and learned a lot about them, but her project ended up as a starling population control exercise- with important findings for raptor conservation!
Enhancing fields for raptors by installing artificial perches
We conducted trials in vineyards and rangelands in California to determine where farmers should install artificial perches to increase raptor hunting on their land. The short answer: not too close to existing trees, and ideally near the tops of hills.
Future work: raptors of NZ farmland
If you are a student interested in studying birds of prey in Aotearoa- get in touch!
Raptor ecology project news
Click on the stories below to read recent news on this topic