Owls and kestrels are being employed as agricultural pest controllers in the Middle East.
Many farmers are installing nest boxes to encourage the birds, which hunt the crop-damaging rodents.
In Israel, where there is a drive to reduce the use of toxic chemical pesticides, this has been turned into a government-funded national programme.
Scientists and conservation charities from Jordan and Palestine have joined the scheme.
According to the charity BirdLife International, hundreds of birds of prey - including many endangered species - have been killed in Israel through eating rodents containing poisonous "rodenticides" sprayed on to crop fields.
But scientists in Israel are now working with farmers to combat this problem - deploying the birds as natural pest controllers.
"There is a real need to reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture here," said Motti Charter, a researcher from Tel Aviv University and team leader of the Global Owl Project in Israel.
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Owls Replace Pesticides in Israel
BBC News, May 20, 2009
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