Conserving the Barn Owls in the Jordan Valley
In order to continue the efforts of conservation of birds in Palestine, and linking these efforts to the concepts of sustainable development, we worked on conserving the barn owl in the Palestinian area of the Jordan Valley. The barn owl is one of the most attractive birds in the world. There is no doubt that the stories of Harry Potter, or folklore in Arab culture have played a major role in this regard. Sometimes we see owls as a symbol of wisdom. Sometimes we see owls as a symbol of ruin- despite their service to humans, as owls feed on nearly 5,000 rodents every year, at an average of 15 mice per day. The barn owl is considered a friend of the farmer; its presence reduces the use of insecticides that damage the ecosystem. Also, it contributes economically by producing better crops, both in quality and quantity, since it is considered a biological and natural alternative for combating rodents in the fields.
Through a study we conducted, it was found that the numbers of barn owl were declining in the Jordan Valley. Therefore, we started the Barn Owl Project in 2019, where we decided to start conserving it by installing nesting boxes in farmers’ lands. Furthermore, we worked on raising awareness about its importance for farmers, and called upon the local community not to kill it, which sometimes happened because an owl is often regarded as a bad omen.
In the year 2020, the success of the Barn Owl Project was announced after a successful nesting season that February. Results showed a good percentage of occupancy in the nests reaching 60-70%. In many boxes dead rodents where observed that the owls stored in their nest after hunting. Furthermore, the success of the project was reflected in a culture of conserving the owls by the local people.
Through the project we continue to organize workshops to exchange experiences between farmers in the Jordan Valley. Also, we have established a network of farmers for continuously maintaining the nesting boxes. Additionally, we organize visits for different groups of society to various nesting sites which have beome an educational station.
Watch the attached video about the project, available in English and Arabic.
Project Partners: The Palestine Society for Environment and Sustainble Development , the Environment Quality Authority,