— BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT:
Tired of dealing with gophers, ground squirrels and other rodents in your yard? Air Superiority can help you rein in the rats in a unique way.
Air Superiority, owned and operated by Tom Stephan out of Ramona, sells barn owl boxes that can be mounted on 16-foot metal poles or in tall trees. These boxes are designed to attract barn owls, who will live in the box and feed on the rodents surrounding your property.
“There are three methods of rodent control,” said Stephan. “There’s poison, there’s traps, and there are barn owls.”
Stephan said that poisoning rodents is only effective about 20 percent of the time, and the rodents become used to eating poison. Poisoning rodents also leads to the death of baby barn owls, he said, and using traps means handling the bodies of the rodents.
Both methods also only deal with rodents after they’ve invaded your property, he said. “Barn owls will hunt on your property and around it, preventing (the rodents) from getting to your property.
Barn owls can consume up to 2,000 rodents a year, said Stephan.
Boxes are required to attract barn owls to your property because they are vulnerable to crows during the day and need a safe place to hide. Stephan recommends buying two boxes, as the male of a breeding pair will be kicked out of the female’s box once eggs are laid, so he will need his own box.
Air Superiority offers three styles of barn owl boxes, ranging from basic to luxury. The largest, “Hoo’s Hoo,” has an optional camera that can be installed so homeowners can get an up-close look at the owls living on their property.
For an additional fee, Stephan will also install the box on your property, which will ensure it is in the right location and at the right height to attract barn owls.
For Stephan, birds of prey have been an obsession since childhood. “I wanted to be a falconer as a kid,” said Stephan. “I cut my teeth as a falconer as a kid in Poway. I climbed up to every raptor nest (I saw) as a kid, so when I needed a job, I became a tree trimmer.”
Stephan spent 20 years in the tree trimming business, and in 1992, was bidding for a job when he spotted an owl box hanging low on a large sycamore tree in her yard.
The woman mentioned that her late husband had installed the box, and sadly no owls had ever nested in it.
“I said that I’d throw in properly installing the box with my bid, and she accepted.”
Three days later, Stephan said she called him, saying a pair of barn owls had begun nesting in the box.
Since that first box, Stephan said he has installed about 32,000 owl boxes. “That’s a lot of boxes,” he said.
The boxes weren’t originally marketed as rodent control, but after several years of reports from clients on their effectiveness, Stephan began marketing the boxes as such.
In addition to years of experience with birds of prey and installing owl boxes, Stephan also uses a proprietary formula in his boxes to keep bees away, as bees can take over a box for a hive. “It’s guaranteed to keep bees away for the life of the box,” he said.
To find out more about barn owl boxes or to purchase one for your yard, call Air Superiority at (760) 445-2023 or visit barnowlboxes.com
— Business spotlights are developed through this newspaper’s advertising department in support of our advertisers.