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Another barn owl nesting box installed

By Staff | Dec 13, 2017

Sanibel Island Golf Club Owner Drew Donnelly and Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Living with Wildlife Educator Dee Serage-Century. A barn owl box was recently installed at the Sanibel Island Golf Club. MEGHAN MCCOY

Another barn owl nesting box was installed on the island, this time at Sanibel Island Golf Club.

“We are trying to help out SCCF anywhere we can,” Sanibel Island Golf Club Owner Drew Donnelly said.

Last winter owl pellets were found behind the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Nature Center, as well as a barn owl being spotted flying at the Bailey Homestead Preserve last spring.

This was big news, due to the last barn owl seen on the island was in 2005.

In 1984, SCCF citizen scientists brought the barn owl back to the island by installing nesting boxes, a necessity after barns and island agriculture disappeared years prior. The owls nested at the SCCF Nature Center for 25 years.

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Living with Wildlife Educator Dee Serage-Century said with the Sanibel Island Golf Club beginning to use less toxic rat poison, she wanted to install another nesting box. The box can be seen while exiting the greens, near the parking lot.

Serage-Century said her next step is to talk with the homeowners of Sanibel Island Golf Club to educate them about the harms of rat poison, which will hopefully persuade them to no longer using rat poison.

“All rat poisons are toxic,” she said, due to it weakening, or killing owls, eagles, hawks, bobcats and coyotes.

The message is simple – seal all rat entry points to a home, attic and garage; use mechanical rat traps, electronic or snap traps; tell pest control companies to stop using poisons, or tell the pest control company not to use brodifacoum, bromaiolone, difenacoum, or difethialone.

The four names of rat poisons can no longer be purchased by homeowners, but those poisons can still be used by professional pest control companies. She said when homeowners ask for another option the quicker the industry will change the poisons they use.

Serage-Century said it’s important to never kill all rats, but rather just take care of the ones found around the house.

Since last month, she said she has a video clip of a female barn owl beginning to investigate the old nesting box at the SCCF Nature Center. Unfortunately, Serage-Century received a phone call that a barn owl was found dead on West Gulf Drive, the result of being hit by a car.

On the bright side, she has found additional barn owl pellets, which is exciting, as well as feathers at the Bailey Homestead.

“There’s definitely a pair around here somewhere,” she said.

Serage-Century encourages the community to help bring barn owls back to the island.

If anyone spots a barn owl, or would like more information about how to protect them, and the harms of rat poison, contact Serage-Century at (239) 472-2329, or email dserage@sccf.org.

At the end of season, SCCF will have a new exhibit at the Nature Center regarding barn owls with a focus on the harms of rat poison.