Providing plenty of room for owls to make their homes on your property is a wonderful thing to do. Owl numbers are prone to fluctuate over time, and providing a safe, dry sanctuary for them can be a wonderful way to ensure that they're always safe and happy.
We'd suggest taking a look through our range of owl nesting boxes and similar options since these are all great, well-made options which can be wonderfully easy to install and fantastic to watch.
We love the fact that owl boxes allow people to spot owls from their own homes with little effort easily - it's a tiny yet wonderful bonus.
Barn Owl Nest Boxes
A nest box for barn owls looks much the same as any number of other similar nest boxes that you might provide to other species. The great thing about a barn owl nest box, though, is that they are always sturdy and appropriately sized.
This might not sound like a big deal, but if you were a bird as big as an owl in a world where people generally cater toward robins, it's the kind of issue that might frustrate you.
A barn owl nest box can be up to a cubic meter in size, though is generally a little smaller. The boxes need to be around the size required for an owl to be able to fit themselves into the box, along with their partner and any young that they might have. An owl house, then, becomes an owl home.
There is no real difference between an owl-focussed box and the boxes or homes of other birds out there. This might be a little surprising, but it's important to consider something simple - whether screech owls or barn owls, they're birds all the same.
The main difference between boxes for most birds in the nesting season and a barn owl box is that barn owl boxes will generally be a lot larger. They are typically up to a meter wide, which can mean that they're a challenge to put up if you're somewhat of a DIY amateur - consider asking a friend to help.
Barn owls are the classic, white-faced owl that you're likely to have seen across the UK. They're very simple and straightforward creatures, simply swooping around and diving to attack their prey. They tend to live in owl boxes occasionally since they offer more stability and security than other options.
A barn owl box is typically situated quite far away from the road and is attached to a tree at a fairly considerable height.
These two factors combine to create a simple home for barn owls that's a lot safer than other options. Barn owl nest boxes typically also have an interior space for owls and their young, as well as a small ledge on which the owls can land and take off.
Where is the best place to put a box?
The best place to put barn owl boxes for barn owls is up a tree or up the outside of a building. Ideally, these boxes should be facing grassland, with an obvious flight path that an owl could take to get into them. This will allow owls to find the boxes and regularly use them.
Also, it's important not to place the box facing the prevailing wind of the area that you're on. Barn owls will teach their young to fly on and around the nest box that you offer for them, meaning that if the conditions are too windy, young owls are unlikely to learn to fly as well. The same goes for screech owl boxes or any kind of owl species - the entrance hole must be accessible, away from the prevailing wind, and ideally facing some grassland.
How do I attract an owl to a nesting box?
In truth, the box itself will be one of the most attractive things that you could offer barn owls. They spend their lives hunting down small rodents and mammals, meaning that they won't be interested in the bird seed that you might put out for them. Instead, a clean, well-maintained box with grass and straw material inside is the best way to attract owls.
It's important to consider that attracting owls is no easier or harder with a homemade or store-bought box. What's really important to nesting owls is the strength and functionality of the nesting box itself. With that said, box plans are readily available; if you're skilled in DIY, making a box may be the right choice for you.
What direction should an owl box face?
The ideal direction for own boxes is toward grassland while being away from the prevailing wind. The idea is generally quite simple - barn owls like to find themselves easily flying in and out of their nest boxes. If the wind conditions mean that it's actually quite hard for owls to fly in the right direction, then they'll have a very difficult time getting themselves home and will likely relocate.
The entrance howl of a nesting box should face grassland for a simple reason - owls are, functionally, persistent predators. While they don't chase things down like our ancestors would, sitting in their nesting box and watching over a field will allow them to keep an eye out for prey. They will happily leap from the entrance hole and hunt when they spot a mouse in the distance.
Can I put an nesting box in my garden?
Generally speaking, yes, owl boxes are suitable for any garden in the country. A nest box will make a suitable home for a family of screech owls or any similar owl, with the entrance hole ideally facing toward your lawn. However, they might not be ideal conditions for a predator.
It's extremely likely that you don't live directly to the back of an extensive range of fields. If you did, then it would be ideal for owls, who prefer to live in quieter, more rural spots. If you live in a busier area, though, then a barn owl might not like to come and live alongside you. This is a frustrating reality for birdwatchers.
Keep pets away from owl boxes
Barn owl boxes contain, occasionally, barn owl chicks. These little ones are very small indeed, often unable to fly and barely able to wobble around. If a small chick falls from the nest, there's every chance that a cat or dog would try to hunt it. Some particularly aggressive cats might even keep an eye on the entrance hole, or any drainage holes in the box, to see if they can spot owls coming out.
Owl box plans should always consider pets - ideally giving them a wide birth. Encountering a pet would be understandably bad for the owl, but it would likely also be bad for the pet. Raw meat contains a lot of contaminants, against which your pet might not be protected.
Consider a large bird bath
A large bird bath, paired with great drainage holes in the nesting box, is a great way to attract owls to your garden. It's rare that they can track down a puddle or bird bath large enough for their needs, to making sure that you've sought one out will be very handy for them.
Some consider owls something of an invasive species, depending upon what species they are. Regardless of this, owls living in nest boxes atop isolated trees will appreciate your charity all the same.