It's a reasonable bargain. They get free meals, flexible working hours, and housing with vineyard views. We get control of the population of local pests, such as squirrels, gophers, and voles, that can damage our vines and drip irrigation lines.
Scattered around the edges of our vineyards are secure and custom built homes for owls and hawks. The occupants come out every dawn and dusk to evaluate our pest levels. They're more capable than internet sensors with AI -- they independently collect data, analyze it, define the location of issues, and take immediate corrective action using their best judgment. Their priority one is our priority one. What's not to like?
Although, I must say, that they are not very timely in submitting their monthly performance reports (Need an app for that.) and usually don't show up to our annual reviews!
And they are quite economical and usually quiet (Young hawks like to yell at each other and owls engage in nightly hooting contests).
Importantly, no tractors, ATVs, or fossil fuels are involved. And even better, no use of animal poisons.
The winged hunters supplement other members of our pest management team. Red foxes, bobcats, and coyotes also live in or around our vineyards and do their part as well. However, those teammates prefer their privacy and secretly build their concealed homes in areas that we've set aside for wildlife between our vineyards.
Providing all of these animals with a desirable and friendly neighborhood is good for them and good for us. In the last year, we have rehabbed many of our bird homes and added more. When we checked the boxes at the end of the season, we discovered that many of the inhabitants had raised families -- at least six babies were born based upon the broken shells we found.
Just a key part of our program of sustainable best practices. We're proud of that work and identify and implement improvements every year. We are certified by the CSWA and our work is independently reviewed every two years.