In order to study Barn Owls, and in order to offer new nesting sites for these owls, we install artificial nestboxes throughout our study zone. We prefer to place the boxes on tall wooden buildings in the countryside. Farmers of Switzerland’s plateau, who are generally the owners of this type of building, are therefore invaluable collaborators in our project. Allowing Barn Owls on their properties can be beneficial for farmers, because Barn Owls consume many rodents that could be harmful for crops. We are extremely grateful to all the nestbox owners who allow us to install the boxes and monitor them regularly throughout the breeding season in order to track Barn Owl populations.
The worlds of farming and the university are often disconnected. Barn Owls create an unexpected bridge between these two universes. Interdisciplinarity and reconnecting the sciences with society are hot topics these days, and so we decided to set up a study linking social psychology and biology. Using questionnaires, we try to understand farmers’ opinions as well as how to improve connections between the worlds of the academy and farming.
How are researchers perceived? Are we understood? Are we useful? Are we able to convey our message? So many questions that in the context of an increasingly significant climate change become real subjects of our society.
In this line of thinking, a new project has come to life: “La chouette effraie : un point de rencontre entre chercheurs et agriculteurs” (The Barn Owl: bringing researchers and farmers together.) Supported with funds from the FNS (the Swiss National Science Foundation), this project also benefits from the AGORA fund for projects (outside research) connecting the sciences and society. The goal of the project is to create, or revive, communication between researchers and farmers. Indeed, it is high time to transmit our data and results to these essential collaborators! Using personalized information, our aim is to update the nestbox owners on what is going on in their own spaces and show them how useful it is for us. We are also developing various tools to improve the dialogue between researchers, farmers, and the general population: special “owl” days at the Chateau de Vullierens, information pamphlets, games, visits to nestboxes, and most especially, this website!