Long-eared owls provide ecological balance in village
Long-eared owls provide ecological balance in a village in the Central Anatolian province of Aksaray they inhabit as they eat rats in fields.
Four years ago, there were only four eagles, but today, their number stands at 200. The owls, which villagers try to feed, has become a picturesque scene for photography aficionados.
The long-eared owls, which usually live in forests and are under protection in some parts of the world because they are endangered, choose the regions they feel safe as their habitat. The number of owls that prefer Aksaray’s Darıhüyük village is increasing by the day. Fahri Tunç, a nature photographer living in the village, stated that he saw four owls in the mosque’s courtyard four years ago.
“I saw the owls on the tree in a mosque courtyard. Because I knew the owls would go elsewhere in search of food during the winter season, I fed them chicken livers. Their numbers increased by the day,” he said.
“Currently, you can definitely see an owl on the trees in front of the houses in our village. I counted them six days ago and found that there are nearly 200 long-eared owls. When we consider their population of Turkey, this is the largest number that can be found in a village. In this sense, it is really important. Perhaps there is no place in Turkey with such a high number of long-eared owls. Seeing 200 owls on two-three trees at the same time is incredible,” he said.
Stating that the most important feature of owls is that they eat rodents, Tunç said, “They mostly feed on field rats in the region. We are currently under the tree they perch. All the remains we see on the ground are the waste of rats. There were a lot of rats in our village and the cats were insufficient against them. After the owls arrived, the number of rats began to decline in the fields.”
Owls are known as ominous animals in rural areas, he said. “Owls are not ominous animals, but a truly auspicious animal. I also believe that it brings abundance to where they come. After all, they achieved the ecological balance of nature here. If there are no owls here, the number of rats will increase tremendously. These owls are incredibly valuable to us.”
Mustafa Kuş, who came from Ankara to the village to observe and photograph the owls, said, “We observed the long-eared owls for a day. There are several kinds of owls in Turkey. When I heard that there are about 200 long-eared owls in a tree in Darıhüyük village of Aksaray, I immediately came here. I have been taking bird photographs for many years. I have been to many places for the owl shootings but at most I have seen two owls on one branch. There is an incredible owl population here right now. I was very happy and really captured beautiful photos while they were flying and on the tree.”
Ayşe Kara, 70, feeds the owls on a tree in front of her house every day.
“Here I give them food and water every day. My grandchildren are chasing them but I warn them not to do it,” she said. “Here they nest on the branch and don’t do us any harm. I am a volunteer guardian to them in the village. Their ears and eyes are very beautiful. God has created them very beautifully.”
“These birds look at me all the time; they fly away and come back after a while. They are my most important guests.”