Synergy of Owls

Synergy of Owls

Synergy is a word we sometimes don’t like, because it’s often over and misused. But the reality it’s intended to describe, the alchemic creation of additional benefit, is one you’ve got to love. We’ve noticed the notion has been creeping into our conversation lately, as we discuss the progress of our new business, the Barn Own Maintenance Program (BOMP). The normal services of BOMP are the installation of new barn owl boxes, occupancy checks on installed ones to ascertain nesting activity, and post-season cleaning/repair to maintain the boxes as viable habitat. But we’ve found there can also be a synergistic plus – fostering – a practice that’s been proven elsewhere, and we’ve now adopted in Napa.

Here’s an example of how it works:

Recently, two sibling owlets were found below a nest in barn – yep, some Barn Owls still do nest in barns. Normally, we’d try to put them back, it’s called reuniting, but the forensic evidence advised against it. The two in hand were very thin and dehydrated, and there was a dead sibling in the nest. Both are signs that the parents were no longer in the picture and the babies weren’t being cared for. That’s where BOMP came in. In a sense it expanded our team and assets, because nearby Malk Family Vineyards, had subscribed to the complete program. As a result, we had done an occupancy check and knew that one of their boxes had a family with owlets of similar age, and thus offered an alternative way to fix this. First we had to stabilize our patients and get them to a healthy weight. Then with the owner’s permission we climbed up and fostered them into the box. Fostering relies on a little described characteristic of Barn Owls, they can’t count! So the parents adjusted and are now providing for a couple of additional hungry mouths. BTW, we’ve checked, they’re thriving!

This case has now become a data point in an interesting observation. First this is a record year for the number of orphaned barn owls we’ve taken in that need a new home. Coincidentally, this is also the same year that our capabilities of finding new homes have grown. In the past we didn’t know where many active nests were. We generally only knew about ones directly associated to incoming patients. Introducing the research work has helped to significantly increase our knowledge of where suitable families are nesting with owlets of similar age, and with room left within the normal range of 3-6 offspring. So this year the synergistic bell has begun to ring repeatedly. We’re starting to wonder if we’ll need to develop an application process.

The first picture is one of the Malk “soon to be” siblings getting ready for transport. The second, is the pair hanging with a family member in their new home.