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Owls in Greater Victoria find protection with home-built boxes

Locals help owls stay safe - one tree at a time

A new home in Oak Bay aims to help the owl population.

The big, burly box hanging near Monteith allotment gardens is the sixth owl house built by Rob Vanzella to go up among the trees in Greater Victoria.

He builds the boxes following the path of Deanna Pfeifer, a board member of the non-profit Rodenticide Free B.C.

The campaign to ban rodenticide use to protect wildlife started for them a couple years ago as dead owls started piling up in their Saanich neighbourhood.

READ ALSO: Necropsy results show Kings Park owl likely died from rat poison

While the province implemented rodenticide bans, it doesn’t go far enough, Pfeifer said.

“There are a lot of loopholes and exemptions in it and the freezers are filling up with dead owls. Animals continue to die.”

Vanzella has long been involved in the campaign to both ban rodenticides to protect the owl population, as well as building the houses to help the birds overcome urbanization. A life-long woodworking hobbyist, he builds them for fun, as projects between his larger goals.

All labour and supplies are donated, from his time, to the donated, repurposed wood, to the Bartlett Tree Experts staff who hang them using Lordco donated straps. The houses are created in cooperation with Bartlett and hung in a way that won’t harm the tree.

So far there are four in Esquimalt, one at the University of Victoria, one in the Kings Road Community Nature Green Space in Saanich and now one above the allotment gardens of Oak Bay.

READ ALSO: B.C. puts 18-month ban on rodenticides to help protect wildlife

Vanzella continues to build the boxes, larger ones for barred owls with a smaller screech owl box still hanging out around his house.

The boxes, like the latest tucked in the tree canopy near Bowker Creek at Monteith, help combat intense urban densification, Pfeifer said.

“This owl box installation is an opportunity to provide education … and help the owl population maybe bounce back so we can have natural rodent control without the use of poison,” she said. “This is a really good way we can help support our owl population.”

Learn more about how to get an owl home at

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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