Good Fruit Grower

April 15

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Encouraging birds of prey SPRI SPRAYNG SPECI ER ALS FEATURES T WO GREAT SPRAYER M ODELS by Melissa Hansen photo by melissa hansen THE "ACCUTECH" Tuck Contreras, left, joins Mike Omeg in his shop to display a kestrel and barn owl box she built. P ersistence and perseverance are needed when putting up nesting boxes for birds of prey. Just because you build it, doesn't mean they will come and set up home. But there are things you can do to improve your odds. The following nesting box and raptor perch tips were gleaned from grower experiences, wildlife experts, and a carpenter turned nesting box specialist during a raptor workshop held last fall in The Dalles, Oregon. Raptor perches For large-bodied raptors like hawks, a vantage point above the trees or vines is often lacking in vineyards and orchards. Growers can install raptor perches to provide a resting place. • Use a sturdy pole. A 4- x 4-inch wooden post is fine, using a 2- x 6-inch cross brace for the perch. Place on the end of tree or vine rows along edges or where there are gullies, unfarmed areas, or scab land. • Some are 30 feet high, but 10 to 12 feet tall works for some, depending on the height of the canopy. Generally, the taller, the better. Add 2 x 4 extensions to add height and then cross brace. Kestrel boxes • Kestrels are territorial, so don't put two boxes together. • Reject-metal water pipe (1.5-inch diameter) makes for an inexpensive metal pole to keep predators from reaching kestrel and owl nesting boxes. Or use a wooden pole, but put a metal band around the wood at the base of the box. • Proper clamping of the box onto the pole is essential to keep nesting boxes of all types from moving. C-clamps and muffler clamps work well. • Sink the poles in ground with concrete. • It's not uncommon for kestrels to move into a barn owl box. (Craig McCurdy of Hood River, Oregon, had kestrels immediately move into a barn owl box he put up, and they've nested there the last five years.) Barn owl box • Barn owls are not territorial, so several boxes can be stacked together, pointing different directions to learn if there's a directional preference (east is thought best). • Place box near a nursery tree so adults and young have a place to fly when coming out of the box. • The entrance should be oval (elliptical), 4 inches wide by 3 inches deep. Box size should be at least two square feet—the bigger the better. • Put a sunshade on top and west side to keep babies from overheating. • Place the box about eight feet off the ground on a sturdy pole. • Inside, a partial wall is needed to keep predators from reaching babies inside. Raccoons are the main predator, along with great horned owls. • Have at least one clean-out door, but two (one on each side) are best. • One box per five acres is generally a good density. 3 YEAR 0 % F NO DOWN PAYMENT 36 Monthly Payments On Approved Credit THE "TRIO" General tips for all nesting boxes • You can put barn owl and kestrel boxes on same pole, as they hunt at different times and will not bother each other. • If no activity is noticed in box for two or three years, try another location. • Bedding is not usually needed for barn owls or kestrels. • Clean out boxes in the fall to remove bugs and parasites. • Paint or stain with a neutral color (not black). Latex wood stain works well. • Use ¾-inch plywood, glued and screwed. • Make air holes in the top corners for ventilation and drain holes in bottom corners. • Don't put a perch on the front of the box as it invites predators. • Place boxes at least eight feet off the ground. Plans for various barn owl and kestrel nesting boxes can be found online. Materials cost less than $50. Commercially built barn owl boxes cost $135 to $150 and installation around $150. Call Your Nearest Dealer Today! GEORGE, WA 509-785-2595 UNION GAP, WA 509-248-8411 SUNNYSIDE, WA 509-839-2066 PASCO, WA 509-544-6678 WALLA WALLA 509-525-4550 CALIFORNIA 509-952-9488 • GOOD FRUIT GROWER April 15, 2013 31

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