RAMONA, Calif. (KGTV) — A Ramona family's attempt to interest their son in nature has become a full-time passion project to protect barn owls.
“I think it’s done a lot to promote peoples’ interest in wildlife," says Stacey Rudge, founder of Ramona Barn Owls.
Rudge's husband, Scott, built an owl box for their yard in 2014. He put a web camera outside so his family could watch and see what happened.
But while their son remained mildly indifferent, Stacey and Scott were entranced. They now have four owl boxes, eight cameras and have installed the kind of high-end streaming equipment utilized by some of the top nature streamers in the world.
It is fitting because Ramona Barn Owls is watched by viewers worldwide, with people commenting on social media to track the owls' behavior. “I wake up to a group text and a Google doc. The second I wake up in the morning, I have all this information and maybe 10-15 pictures of what was happening while I was sleeping before I even get up in the morning," Stacey said.
They have also learned to have fun with social media, turning the behaviors of the birds into silly videos with music, narration, and plotlines that could be found on reality television. “We’re the Kardashians of nature. We’re definitely the biggest soap opera going," Stacey said.
2024 is shaping up to be one of the most fascinating yet for Ramona Barn Owls. Stacey says that for the first time, two nesting couples are calling the boxes home, and they have 13 eggs about to hatch between the two pairs. That's nearly twice as many as any previous season.
Stacey has designed a clothing line, with some proceeds going to local wildlife organizations. She also works with several area schools, which play the streams in their classrooms, while Stacey provides owl pellets for students to dissect.
You can also find her volunteering at the weekly Hawk Watch, a free Ramona event where people can learn about the many birds that call the area home.