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First, we would like to thank you for taking the time to make a positive difference in the environment. Good luck!
Every box location will be unique. Owl boxes may be mounted to trees, poles, and the inside or outside of barns, silos and sheds. Let’s start with some basic background information to help with your box placement.
- Barn owls are natural cavity dwellers, they do not make nests. Tree cavities and cliff faces are the natural choice for nesting owls. For the best chance of success place owl boxes in a dry, shaded location, protected from prevailing
- Required mounting height will vary. In general, owl nest should be high enough to reduce the chance of interference from ground-dwelling predators. (Cats, raccoons, snakes, etc) For the best chance of success owl boxes should be a minimum of 12 feet high.
- Barn owls have adapted to using man-made structures for nesting. Owls may even become accustom to human activity, but in general they prefer not to be disturbed, especially during the spring nesting season. For the best chance of success place owl boxes away from areas of frequent human activity.
- The very best owl habitat is usually a mosaic made up of small woodlots with grassy areas, fence lines, ditches and hedge lines. The owls hunt the open areas while the woodlot provides a reservoir of prey. For the best chance of success place owl boxes at the edge of an open area, not the center of a woodlot.
- After time, an occupied box will become filled with debris. The owls will kick some of this material out in the spring as they prepare for nesting, but it is possible for the box to become completely filled and unusable after years of nesting. For the best chance of success, clean out the box between nesting.
We are often asked how to attract owls. The key to attracting owls is to provide good habitat conditions for the prey that owls depend on. The majority of the owl’s diet is made up of voles, which thrive in moist pastureland. From our experience the edges of this pastureland provides the very best owl habitat. Clearing heavy brush, occasional mowing, providing hedge lines, fence lines, wind breaks, openings in woodlots will benefit owl habitat. Land managed in such a way to provide these features will lend itself to a healthy population of owls. Of course, keep in mind that rodentcides should not be used if you would like owls on your property.