EcoSolutions is actively involved in several educational and owl release programmes at schools and eco-estates around Gauteng.
Steyn City School recently participated in their first release and released a pair of barn owls (tyto alba) as part of the EcoSolutions and Owl Project, Owl Release Programme.
Schools are great sites to conduct owl releases as these properties have large, open grounds which are quiet at night. This provides perfect fledging sites for young owlets to hone their hunting and flying skills. Release sites also facilitate the creation of reasonably large poison-free zones which lend themselves to owl habitation.
The juvenile owls EcoSolutions receives that are unable to be returned to their nesting site, are released through a process known as ‘hacking’. The hacking technique for owls is similar to that used by the Peregrine Fund which re-populated the eastern seaboard of America with peregrine falcons (peregrinus perigrinus) after the population crashed as a result of the DDT usage in the 1960s.
The EcoSolutions Owl Release Programme only releases juvenile owls. Juvenile owls tend to enjoy a freedom of passage and are not targeted by adult owls in the area who are able to identify them as non-breeding juveniles. Post-fledging, owlets tend to move away from their natal area and provided they survive the first year, will generally establish territories of their own.