"For owls and our shared environment"
Started in 2001, The Hungry Owl Project (HOP) is a partnerhsip with WildCare, a non-profit education and wildlife rehabilitation center in Marin County, CA. HOP's inception came about while Founding Director, Alex Godbe was volunteering at WildCare through the late 1990s. Dismayed by the amount of owls and other wildlife coming into the hospital either sick or dead - the result of secondary rodenticide poisoning, Alex thought there had to be a better solution. Thus, the Hungry Owl Project was formed. A grass roots non-profit initiative, the Hungry Owl Project is dedicated to reducing the use of toxic rodenticides while promoting owl and wildlife conservation.
In 2012, 79.1% of raptors (owls, hawks etc) and other rodent consuming wildlife that were tested by our local wildlife hospital, WildCare, were found positive for secondary rodenticide poisoning. Studies completed elsewhere, yield very similar, if not worse results. Rodenticides (rodent poison) are expensive, counterproductive and incredibly destructive to wildlife and our shared environment.
Most rodenticides provide a very slow and horrific death for rodents, usually taking several days after ingestion to actually kill. During those several days the rodent will still go out to find food and water. They will be sluggish and debilitated, and as a result, will be the first to be caught. Owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, mountain lions, foxes, herons, egrets, domestic dogs and cats and even children can be at risk. Rodenticides are a serious problem and one that negates the help these natural predators would otherwise provide. Without natural predators, rodent populations would explode. For more on rodenticides please click HERE.
Barn Owls, on the other hand, can be a wonderful help. They are gorgeous creatures with voracious appetites. Installing Barn Owl boxes can be a very cost effective and eco-friendly way to help with a rodent problem. A single Barn Owl family can consume 3,000 rodents in a single 4 month breeding cycle. In many areas Barn Owls have multiple clutches a year, raising the total for possible consumed rodents to 6,000 - 9,000 a year per owl box!
In addition to rodenticides, owls face a number of other threats, such as loss of habitat. As development by humans continues to expand, owl habitat continues to shrink. The replacement of family farms by industrialized, intensive farming has eliminated nesting sites (old barns, silos and cavities in trees). In the midwest, Barn Owls are in a major decline. Fortunately, in California, they continue to thrive in relatively high numbers, but their survival depends on two important factors: preservation of their nest sites and habitat, and safe methods of pest control.
It is our aim to reduce the need for dangerous rodenticides while promoting the use of Barn Owls and other natural predators for pest control. It can truly be a "win win" situation. Landowners benefit from the pest control provided by owls and the owls get safe locations to nest and safe habitat to hunt.
With these issues in mind, the Hungry Owl Project began to manufacture and erect owl boxes. We install boxes in residential areas, ranches, farms, schools, parks, open space, golf courses, and of course vineyards - anywhere gophers and other rodents are a problem. Before a box is erected it is important to make sure it is a safe area and that rodenticides (marketed as d-Con, Talon and other names) and pesticides are no longer used. Otherwise the beneficial predators will be attracted to a nest site that is inherently unsafe.
While the Hungry Owl Projected started with owl boxes, we've since expanded to include a number of additional programs, all geared towared furthering our mission. Our education program puts on educational presentations and events for schools, communities, vineyards, farms and almost any other interested parties. We cover owls & their natural history, non-toxic rodent control, wildlife safe tree-work and many other topics. We also help classrooms and students with owl, Bluebird and bat focused projects. Our Raptor Rescue & Reunite (RRR) program rescues, reunites and fosters owls and hawks. Our Tree Life Program was created in response to the amount of owls, hawks and other wildlife that are injured or killed by poor tree work. We educate arborists and the public in wildlife-safe methods of tree work and do site visits to inspect targeted trees for owls or other wildlife. Our Bluebird Program was created to promote the use of Bluebirds for their potent ability as insect controllers and at the same time work to reverse their diminishing habitat. Our Owl Cam Program was created to educate, share and perpetuate a love and respect for owls and other wildlife. Visit our owl cam page during nesting season to view live streaming video inside owl boxes, giving you an intimate view into the lives of Barn Owls.
The Hungry Owl Project works with the public to find solutions in situations where owls may nest in inappropriate places. In 2002 a pair of barn owls was discovered raising a family inside the tower of the Marin Civic Center during a construction and restoration project. By working with the Civic Center management and the construction company, the owls were able to raise their family and five owls safely fledged from the tower.
We include school children in ongoing projects by making presentations, engaging them in owl pellet dissection, and soliciting their help in building owl boxes. Students at several school have consturcted owl boxes for us, local scout troops have built boxes for us, inmates in the Sonoma County Jail regularly build boxes for us and countless other volunteers have taken on box building projects as well. So far well over 1000 Hungry Owl Project nesting boxes have been installed!
The Hungry Owl Project, is run by a group of dedicated volunteers. We are sustained by members of the community who build boxes for us, make donations, volunteer and and provide support in many ways. Help us continue our mission today by making a tax deductible donation! Click HERE to donate.
Hungry Owl Project Staff & Volunteers:
Alex Godbe - Executive Director
Joe Fox - Assistant Director, Director of Media & Marketing
Sarah Sawtelle - Box Program Manager
Karen Gosling - Administrative Assistant
Charlie Boyd - Box Program Assistant
Suzanne Mirviss - Education Program Coordinator
Maggie Rufo - Founding Member, Ambassador Handler
Mary Blake - Ambassador Handler, Artist
Linda Knight - Ambassador Handler, Raptor Rescue & Reunite
Trinka Marris - Founding Member, Education Program Presenter
Sabrina Dolan - Ambassador Handler
Mari Litsky - Bluebird Program Lead
Renee Herve - Box Program Assistant
Star Dewar - Photographer, Ed Program Volunteer
Lorri Gong - Foster Caregiver
Buho the Western Screech Owl
Gazeau the Great Horned Owl
Wookie the Barn Owl (in memoriam)
Vladimir the Turkey Vulture
Sequoia the Northern Spotted Owl
Phoenix the Red-shouldered Hawk
Hibou the Great Horned Owl (in memoriam)
Kali the Red-Tailed Hawk (in memoriam)
Special thanks to the following groups and individuals for their invaluable help & support of our project:
Jim Cairnes - Small World Tree Service
Merlin Schlumberger - Merlin's Tree and Farm Care
Brad Marsh - Sonoma County Bird Rescue Center
Rick Stern / Sonoma County Jail Industries
Above The Rest - Above The Rest
Debbie & Herb Rowland
John Parulis - Bright Path Video
Charlotte Torgovitsky, Marin Art & Garden Center
Scott Stender - Digit Video
Golden Gate Raptor Observatory
Phil Johnson, MMWD
Joe Mueller, College of Marin
John Wick and Peggy Rathmann
Melanie Donaghy and George Livingstone
HOP is a partnership with WildCare.
7% of all HOP income goes to WildCare to help with
the administrative costs associated with our partnership.
501(c)(3) Non Profit - ID No. 51-0172331