Here are some tips on how to attract owls to an owl box:
- Offer shelter: Owls do not build nests like smaller birds do, so fill the box halfway with wood shavings.
Ideally, put the box in a wooded area rather than in an open space.
Keep the box at least ten feet above the ground to protect owls from predators like raccoons.
- Install an owl nesting box: Most owls seek hollow cavities in trees to nest, but some, like the screech owl, are attracted to manufactured boxes.
Place boxes in trees 10-12 feet from the ground.
- Give them food: Owls feed on mice and other small rodents crawling in your yard.
You can attract these rodents by planting native plants like wild herbs, shrubs, and young trees.
These features will also attract other types of native birds and wild animals, signaling to owls that your yard is a safe haven for wildlife.
Consider adding a homemade birdbath or a bird feeder to your property to draw in these smaller visitors.
- Give them water: Owls need water to drink and bathe in.
Consider adding a bird bath or a small pond to your yard.
- Grow big trees: Owls need somewhat dense, mature trees with good trunks to roost during the day, preferably in a shaded, secluded area.
Both coniferous and deciduous trees are suitable if they are a good size.
- No lights: Owls are nocturnal birds and prefer dark environments.
Avoid using bright lights in your yard at night.
- Keep pets inside: Owls may see small pets like cats and dogs as prey.
Keep your pets inside at night to avoid attracting owls to your yard.
- Be patient: Attracting owls to your yard may take time.
Be patient and persistent in your efforts.
- Monitor your box: European starlings are known to take over screech owl boxes before the owls move in, so it’s important to monitor your box.
The number one way to deter this invasive species is to:
- Scatter 2 to 3 inches of untreated wood shavings (such as those sold for rabbit bedding at pet stores) at the bottom of the box.
- Place the box in a place where you won’t mind owl pellets (regurgitated fur and bones from prey) or whitewash (poop) falling on the ground.
- Keep the box free from wasps, squirrels, rodents, raccoons, or other birds or guests that may discourage nesting owls.
- Know when you’ve attracted owls: You can do this by listening closely at night for owl sounds.
You can also try calling them using their own owl sounds to confirm.
And then do your research as to what kind of nest box you should install.
- What Are The Specific Features Or Characteristics Of An Owl Box That Make It Attractive To Owls?
- Are There Any Specific Locations Or Environmental Conditions That Increase The Likelihood Of Attracting Owls To An Owl Box?
- Are There Any Specific Steps Or Strategies That Can Be Used To Actively Encourage Owls To Inhabit An Owl Box, Such As Providing Food Sources Or Nesting Materials Nearby?
- Helpful Resources
What Are The Specific Features Or Characteristics Of An Owl Box That Make It Attractive To Owls?
Owl boxes are designed to attract owls to nest in them.
Here are some of the specific features or characteristics of an owl box that make it attractive to owls:
- Size: Owl boxes should be large enough to accommodate the specific type of owl you are trying to attract.
For example, small and medium-sized owls like the Western Screech Owl or the Barn Owl may use a nest box.
- Entrance hole: The entrance hole should be the appropriate size for the type of owl you are trying to attract.
For example, a typical barn owl nest box has a six-inch entrance hole that is suitable for a barn owl but too small for a great horned owl.
- Location: Owl boxes should be placed in the right habitat with sufficient prey available.
For example, barn owls prefer to use nest boxes placed about 12 feet off the ground in dark, secluded areas near grasslands, croplands, and other open habitats.
- Safety: Owl boxes should be hidden from predators and placed in less trafficked areas.
Drainage holes are essential for any safe birdhouse, including owl boxes.
- Nesting material: Some owl boxes may include nesting material to make it more attractive to owls.
- No perch: No perch is necessary, and adding one will only give footing to predators.
- Cleaning: Owl boxes should have a side or top that can be safely opened for cleaning and appropriate monitoring.
If you are trying to attract a specific type of owl, it is important to research the specific requirements for that species.
For example, some owls are not cavity nesters and prefer open nests created from other large birds or the broken tops of snags.
Are There Any Specific Locations Or Environmental Conditions That Increase The Likelihood Of Attracting Owls To An Owl Box?
Different owl species have different preferences when it comes to the location and environmental conditions of their nesting boxes.
Here are some tips for attracting owls to an owl box:
- Barred Owls: Place the box 20-30 feet above ground on a tree trunk in a wooded area.
Make sure the entrance is not obscured or obstructed by branches.
Barred owls are territorial and require about 125 acres.
Boxes should be spaced at least 1/2 mile apart.
- Barn Owls: Barn owl nest boxes should be placed in open countryside in isolated trees or trees that overlook open habitat.
The box should be placed at least 3 meters above ground level, and the access hole should be visible to a passing owl, even when the tree is in full leaf and seen from a distance.
The box should be quite close to strips or patches of rough grassland.
If the box hanging system involves screwing or nailing into a tree, then choose a dead tree, where possible.
Trees with low branches/leaves and trees screened by other trees/buildings are not suitable because the access hole will be hidden.
Tree boxes within woodland are very unlikely to attract Barn Owls.
- Screech Owls: Screech owls are attracted to manufactured boxes.
Place boxes in trees 10-12 feet from the ground.
Screech owls don’t build nests inside the box, so make sure you scatter 2 to 3 inches of untreated wood shavings at the bottom.
Place the box in a place where you won’t mind owl pellets or whitewash falling on the ground.
European starlings are known to take over screech owl boxes before the owls move in, so it’s important to monitor your box.
The number one way to deter this invasive species is to place your box in a wooded, not open, area.
If this isn’t possible, monitor the box and clean out starling nesting material if you notice it.
- General tips: Owls prefer dark, secluded areas for their nesting boxes.
Boxes should be placed away from prevailing winds.
Barns, abandoned buildings, and silos are also excellent places for nest boxes.
If placing a box in a barn, nail the back of the box flat to the siding with the front facing into the barn.
Secure the box to a brace or stud.
Regularly clean and maintain the nest boxes, especially during late fall and winter.
Are There Any Specific Steps Or Strategies That Can Be Used To Actively Encourage Owls To Inhabit An Owl Box, Such As Providing Food Sources Or Nesting Materials Nearby?
Yes, there are specific steps and strategies that can be used to encourage owls to inhabit an owl box.
Here are some tips from various sources:
- Provide food sources: Owls need a reliable food source to survive, so providing food can encourage them to stay in the area.
For example, you can create strips or patches of rough tussocky grassland with a high population of Field Voles, which are Barn Owls’ main prey.
You can also feed owls during bad weather.
- Provide nesting materials: Owls need a suitable place to nest, so providing nesting materials can encourage them to stay in the area.
For example, you can scatter 2 to 3 inches of untreated wood shavings at the bottom of the owl box.
- Provide a suitable habitat: Owls need a suitable habitat to thrive, so providing a suitable habitat can encourage them to stay in the area.
For example, Barn Owl nest boxes in the UK & Ireland should be placed in open countryside in isolated trees or trees that overlook open habitat.
Owls need somewhat dense, mature trees with good trunks to roost during the day, preferably in a shaded, secluded area.
- Avoid disturbances: Owls are sensitive to disturbances, so it’s important to avoid disturbing them.
For example, you should avoid placing owl boxes in urban, suburban, dense forest, or high mountain areas.
- Monitor the owl box: You should monitor the owl box to ensure that it is not being taken over by other animals, such as European starlings.
- Provide a suitable owl box: The owl box should be well-designed and well-positioned to maximize the chances of occupation.
The access hole should be facing towards open ground but avoid the prevailing weather.
The owl box should be placed 10 to 15 feet up in a tree.
By following these tips, you can actively encourage owls to inhabit an owl box.