Owls help control unwanted rodents

Special collaboration of Mrs. Suzie Plourde, UQROP Project Manager

Many maple syrup producers find themselves dealing with rodents, who are attracted by maple sap and can cause damage to tubing systems. But there’s a natural solution to this problem! Did you know that a single barred owl eats three mice, or nearly one squirrel, a day? By eating rodents, these owls can help reduce the damage to your tubing system!

Barred owls are found year-round in mature sugar bushes across the north of America with dead or hollow trees. Because they need tree hollows for nesting, they can’t always find a home. If there is little to no natural shelter available, you can install nesting boxes that imitate these hollows.

A barred owl can have anywhere from one to five chicks, which then stay with their parents for four months. Imagine how many rodents a family can eat! To avoid disturbing breeding pairs, trees should be cut from September to January. An owl’s nest should be given 50 m of clearance.

To attract barred owls, cohabitate with them harmoniously, and keep everyone safe, 10 dead or hollow trees should be kept per hectare and be located away from facilities. It’s also important that 15% of the forest consist of companion species (e.g. American beech, hemlock, yellow birch) and that at least 70% of the forest cover be maintained.

Never use rodent poison. A mouse or squirrel weakened by poison contains enough poison to kill an owl.

To find out how you can attract and keep barred owls in your sugar bush, email UQROP for reference documents, including nesting box designs, at soutien@uqrop.qc.ca

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