Two artificial nest boxes for barn owls have been placed near the storm water retention ponds of Limassol-Amathus sewage board in Kato Polemidia to reduce rodents in the area in an environmentally friendly way.

The move is part of the pilot project which aims to increase the population of barn owls and the biological control of rodents. This will help reduce the use of chemicals which pose a serious threat to biodiversity and wildlife.

It was completed by the district’s sewage board in cooperation with the game and fauna fund. Since the mid 1990s, the fund has installed and controls every year more than 200 nest boxes all over Cyprus, mainly in agricultural and livestock areas.

Earlier this year, Limassol community leaders visited Denia village in Nicosia to see in practice how the policy has been applied there since 2016, so they can implement something similar in their own communities.

Barn owls are nocturnal birds of prey and are considered the farmers’ best ally in the fight against rodents in the countryside since it feeds almost exclusively on rodents, namely mice and rats.

Each barn owl consumes four to six rodents every night, while a family of barn owls consumes up to 6,000 rodents per year.

Their breeding season usually starts in late March to early April. The birds do not use any nesting materials while they lay between four and seven white eggs which are incubated by the female alone for about a month. The male provides food during the female’s incubation period. The eggs are laid every two days, sometimes longer. They are nursed by both parents and they acquire adult plumage directly between the third and seventh week.

The barn owl and all species of owls in Cyprus are strictly protected by law, although very often hunters kill them. Natural enemies of these birds are the fox and large birds of prey such as hawks and eagles.