Ilundáin, The wildlife
recovery centre

Fotografía Buho - Faureco

Collaboration with regard to rodent control

Strengthening the Barn owl and Common Kestrel populationsin the Navarre steppe lands.

For the last 8 to 10 years, rural buildings have been progressively abandoned or renovated, houses and farmyards in particular.


On the other hand, some signs of the presence of the common vole have been detected in Navarra, although only on a small scale. In other Autonomous Communities, however, the demographic explosion of this species has led to considerable losses in the farming sector. In an attempt to get ahead of future problems and avoid considerable losses to crops, the Navarre Government Department for Rural Development and the Environment is implementing a project directed at recovering or strengthening the barn owl and common kestrel populations in those areas liable to be colonised by the common vole.

The barn owl is a bird that feeds almost exclusively on rodents. Therefore, a considerable increase in the population of these nocturnal birds will considerably help to control the outbreak of the common vole. Likewise, the common kestrel primarily preys on small rodents. The strengthening of the populations of these birds of prey is being conducted by a technique known as hacking, consisting in rearing the birds in the countryside in artificial nests located in places where these birds are not present, but would naturally nest, particularly farmyards and other such buildings. The chicks are placed in these nests and they are fed until they become independent. These nests are also used for other wild birds.

The barn owl and common kestrel chicks coming to the Ilundáin Wildlife Recovery Centre are raised in the rearing unit. Once they are able to regulate their body temperature and feed themselves (although not yet able to fly), they are taken to the artificial nests. There they are fed, yet with no exposure to human contact, so that they do no make the person - food association.

Up to now, 30 boxes are being used, which are set to be increased by a further 100 during 2011.

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