The Feathered Friends of Lynmar
Guest Post by Doris Duncan, Executive Director of Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
I first became acquainted with Lynmar Estate when I was invited to pick up the gophers that had been trapped from the vineyards in May of 2011. Knowing these dead gophers would save us hundreds of dollars that we normally would have had to spend on wildlife food, I quickly went to pick up the donated gophers. What a great way to recycle too. When I arrived at the vineyard, I was taken aback and stunned at the beautiful surroundings I found myself in. With the exquisite Laguna in the background and the vineyard and trees spread out in front of me, it was clear to me that this was one of the most stunning wildlife habitats in Sonoma County.
My next thought was to look for barn owl boxes and I was smiling from ear to ear when I saw that Lynmar had both the appropriate number as well as the best style of barn owl boxes incorporated into the surrounding areas. My first thought was to ask someone if we could possibly look into the idea of Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue beginning a partnership with Lynmar Estate to help foster orphaned barn owls. Every year we get a large number of orphaned barn owls and the best thing for the orphans is to have them raised by a mother barn owl and not a human. Fortunately, mother barn owls will accept additional babies as her own and raise them with her clutch of natural babies. This is a common professional practice of wildlife rehabilitation because it reduces the stress on the orphaned owlets.
Right about then, the vineyard manager, Jason Saling, came driving up and introduced himself. I was pretty excited about this idea and quickly shared it with Jason, who was equally receptive. I explained the process of our fostering techniques and how it could benefit this beautiful habitat and the wildlife that shared it. As we were finishing up our conversation, along came the proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Fritz with their son Adam. After being introduced I was very happy to hear the family’s enthusiasm about the idea of fostering orphaned babies with wild mother barn owls.
As I left and was driving back to the wildlife center, I could not help feeling very warm and grateful for this unique opportunity. When I arrived at the Center, I discovered in the short time that I had been gone, we had admitted an unusual number of orphaned barn owls into our hospital. These young owls had different reasons for being with us. Also they were at different levels of development. After working to get them all stabilized and confirming that we would not be able to return them back to their original location (as is required by the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife and US Fish and Wildlife), I turned to our new resource – Lynmar Estate. With the help of Jason and our nest replacement team, we were able to foster eight new babies into barn owl boxes throughout the estate. Since then, we have fostered over 15 orphans with wild mothers at Lynmar.
We continue to work together and we were able to share this experience recently with Angel Van Lawick (granddaughter of famous scientist and primatologist, Dr. Jane Goodall.) who was interning at our Wildlife Center. In the last 3 years, we have had great success with these efforts through our Barn Owl Maintenance Program (BOMP) and continue to monitor this program in other vineyards as well. We will always be grateful to Lynmar Estate and the folks there who helped make this possible.