Nest boxes and neutrality: Middle East barn owl project seeks Swiss participation

Swiss ornithologist Alexandre Roulin is helping farmers in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian West Bank fight rodent infestations using avian predators instead of pesticides. The project, which aims to restore the ecosystem and cross-cultural dialogue, hopes Switzerland will play a leading role. With their distinctive heart-shaped white faces, onyx eyes and honey-coloured wings, barn owls can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. Their exceptional vision and hearing and almost soundless flight – not to mention their powerful talons – make them formidable nocturnal hunters. But these aren’t the only reasons that Alexandre Roulin has been fascinated by barn owls – scientific name Tyto alba – since he was a teenager. “Eagles kill their siblings like Cain and Abel, but the barn owls help each other,” Roulin told in his office at the University of Lausanne, where he is a professor in the department of ecology and evolution. “The barn owl has all the ...

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