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Eco-friendly solutions to nature's problems

 

Last updated 10/16/2008 at Noon

Tom Stephan of Air Superiority holds his falcon Isabella.

It is sometimes a challenge for people to find work they are zealous about, but for Tom Stephan, owner of Air Superiority, it was easy.

His work gives him deep satisfaction, as he is doing something that he truly loves to do. His passion for birds, nature and environmental issues works perfectly in conjunction with the business.

In 1996, Air Superiority started out as a bird control company.

“I had nine Air Force contracts, flying my trained falcons on the flight line performing bird abatement that the military calls ‘Bird Air Strike Hazard’ or ‘BASH,’” said Stephan, a master falconer. “I have also had numerous contracts flying raptors in vineyards and am the first individual to do so.”

If a business or residence has a bird problem, Stephan can help.

This includes crow problems. “I have developed a sprinkler system that is installed in trees that crows roost in,” said Stephan. “It can be set on a timer or motion detector.”

Stephan is also widely known for building and installing customized owl nest boxes as a means for natural rodent control.

All prospective clients, says Stephan, can remain assured that they will get a quality product, professionally installed. “It is also certain that [clients] will get owls to inhabit their new nest box,” he said.

The newest high-tech barn owl nesting box on the Air Superiority product list is named The Castle.

“The owls enter through a lowered drawbridge,” described Stephan. “Inside the box, there is night vision, radio frequency, video camera with a solar-powered battery and motion detector.”

Via their television, residents can sit back and watch owl happenings up close and personal.

Other nesting boxes Stephan offers are for bats, bluebirds and kestrels. Air Superiority can create anything from a standard to elaborate nesting box.

So, how great are owls for rodent control? A pair of barn owls making a nesting box their homestead can kill up to 2,000 rodents per year.

“A new study by the US Fish and Wildlife Service reports figures as much as 3,200,” said Stephan.

In the spring and summer, he explained, up to 12 owlets will be born. While these owlets grow, they eat their weight in rodents every night, and more, if they can get it.

With the state ban on rodenticides on the horizon, it appears that much will be changing in the industry.

“Most rodents killed today are killed with poison; no poison means that owls and trapping are the only alternatives now,” said Stephan. “This is obviously good news for our owls, as most owls that are killed inadvertently by man are killed by being poisoned secondarily or struck by vehicles.”

The statewide decision to ban rodent poison has been due to secondary poisoning that has come into contact with humans, pets, livestock and wildlife.

On a regional level, the rodent population will be unaffected with this new state decision. Locally, however, there could be an adverse effect to shade, fruit and nut trees.

“Citrus and avocado growers as well as vineyards may have trees in seriously declining vigor and vitality,” said Stephan, who is also a certified arborist. “These plants may live, but there will be a need to quantify the loss of yield of a product due to the gnawing of gophers and rats on roots, fruit and bark, respectively.”

Utilizing owls for rodent control is unique in that they can control even the neighboring properties.

“If you were to extricate all the rodents on your property, within a week or so your property would recruit a whole bevy of rats, gophers and mice from the neighboring properties,” said Stephan.

Owl rodent patrol can easily and naturally deal with this issue.

Air Superiority is also introducing a new line of products from Gronomics. They are upright gardens that are ready to use with a built-in drip irrigation system for herbs, vegetables, flowers and more.

“We can even add more tiers to your existing vegetable garden or in other areas that you want to enhance,” he said.

Every aspect of Air Superiority offers an eco-friendly solution to a world going green. “It can’t get better than that,” Stephan said.

For more information on Air Superiority, contact Stephan at (760) 445-2023 or log on to his Web site at http://www.owlnestboxes.com.

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