Happenings Around the Farm

7/9/2019 - 12:37:02 PM
Tags:

In recent weeks, Dan Mummert has been here twice to assess the welfare of the American Kestrels and Barn Owls that use our nest boxes. Both of these species are in decline in PA and are considered sensitive species. With that being the case, they are being studied and monitored by the PA Game Commission. The good news is that here on the fruit farm, they are consistently attracted to our nest boxes and successfully hatch young every year. Dan attaches ID bands to the fledglings to aid in studying and tracking these species. 


Both of these species have significant benefit to the orchardist because they prey on voles that can damage or kill fruit trees. Depending on the size, a family of barn owls can catch and eat 15-20 voles every night.  That's over 500 voles in a season!


American Kestrel

 

 


Barn Owl

 

 

In addition to these two species, orchard worker David has sighted another bird of prey in decline, the Northern Harrier.


Northern Harrier: Adult Female

Perches on low trees and shrubs as well as fence posts.

Dan Murphy | Macaulay Library

Wyoming. May 04, 2016


A few notes of interest...

  • Though not necessarily in decline throughout their entire distribution area, Barn Owls and American Kestrels are in decline in PA.. 

  • An owl (not a barn owl) is featured on a PA DMV special fund license plate about conserving wild resources

  • Barn owls hunt at night mostly by hearing. Their bowl shaped faces act just like one of those whisper dishes at the science center, effectively gathering sound waves and directing them to the ears. Their ears are at the edge of the bowl shape and are slightly asymmetrical to help them triangulate to determine the exact location of their prey. They have some of the best hearing ability of any animal tested. They can even hear voles underneath the snow and attack through the snow. Juvenile mortality in the winter is often a result when a crust forms on top of the snow because their body weight is not sufficient to penetrate the crust.  

  • We find many owl pellets outside of the owl nest boxes. Picking one of these apart can be a wonderful learning experience, as you can easily distinguish the bones and fur of their prey. 

  • A full clutch of owlets can keep both parents busy all night in order to keep them well fed. Each owlet can eat up to three voles per night.  

  • The owls make a skin-prickling, hair-raising, raspy shriek when then are upset and agitated. 

  • Dan Mummert of the PA Game Commission monitors many nesting sites in his region of PA. This year, the barn owls in our barn are one of only a few active nest sites that he knows of in his region.  

  • Orchards are an excellent habitat for barn owls because two species of voles love to live in orchards and feed on apple trees. They are the pine vole and the meadow vole.  

  • American Kestrels are a beautiful bird. The males are very similar in appearance to a Peregrine Falcon, only smaller.  

  • We love to hear of others who are building and installing barn owl boxes and kestrel boxes!


Other species of interest that have been spotted on our farm, mostly by David Lantz, one of our employees:


Chipping Sparrow

Killdeer

Northern Flicker

Brown Thrasher

American Goldfinch

Cooper's Hawk

Brown-headed Cowbird

Ring-necked Pheasant

House Finch

White-crowned Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Tree Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Horned Lark

Red-tailed Hawk

Eastern Bluebird

Purple Martin

Chimney Swift

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Kingbird

Peregrine Falcon

Red-winged Blackbird

Grasshopper Sparrow

Carolina Wren

Fish Crow

Snow Goose

American Pipit

Bald Eagle

Golden Crowned Kinglet

Palm Warbler

Northern Harrier

Indigo Bunting

Baltimore Oriole 

Red-headed Woodpecker

Broad-tailed Hawk

Ovenbird

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Sandpiper

Bobolink

Flycatcher


Leave a Comment
Name
 

Fireworks  Lancaster  Lancaster County  things to do  Rough and Tumble  Dad  Fathers Day  Grilling  Sauce  BBQ  Local  Recipe  Rhubarb  Clear Jel  Canning  Pie Filling  Food Truck  History  Food Waste  Recycle  Easter  Markets  expiration date  Springtime  Race  Nature  Kauffmans Fruit Farm  pruning  Trimming  orchard  fruit  Mud Sales  Fire Company  Sales  Adventure  Geese  Middle Creek  Jam  Muffin  New Years  Resolution  Apples  Prayer  thanksgiving  Fruit Trees  books  read  fall  recipes  Pears  Plums  Peach  COBBLER  Apple  yellow  transparent  summer  vegetable  kids  Fathers Day Gifts  ideas  Cherry  trees  planting  Mothers Day  Recycling  bloom  Spring  Market  marmalade  DST  Community  Maple Syrup  Holiday  Valentines  Winter  butters  Bees  Christmas  Dessert  Valentine's Day  Pectin, Jams, Jelly,   Apple Cider  Faith Family & Fruit    Breakfast  Rasperry  Drinks  gift box, mix n match  goals  History Book  No Sugar Added  Holidays  autumn, apples, gift box  Apple Recipe  autumn  pumpkin  gift box  autumn, peach,  apple, pie  autumn, peach, dessert  Peaches  Apples, Gift Box, Schnitz  Apple, Apple Crisp, Autumn,   Eat Local  apple butter  back to school  Mac & Cheese  Gluten  Bavarian Cream  Shoofly Pie  Soup  Fat  Snack  Guacamole  Healthy  new years resolutions  salad  vegetables  New Years   website  blog  Eggs  Potato  crockpot, wassail, apple cider, heating, saving money  thanksgiving, cranberry, recipe, fall  popcorn, cranberries, fall, thanksgiving,   Bread