Many DIY’ers get their start by building something simple such as a bird house. But building a barn owl nesting box takes that to the next level.
With a stereotypical bird house, it’s essentially a pretty box with an entrance/exit hole. But barn owl boxes need to have a few more elements. They’re still relatively simple to make though and only have a couple upgrades. But constructing these boxes are pretty important in themselves because of what they can do for the barn owls.
In this article, you’ll learn why you should build a barn owl box, how to build one, and why it’s so important to maintain it.
If you’ve decided a barn owl box is right for you, then any of these plans can set you down the path. You’ll notice that most of these plans come from private or public wildlife foundations. These plans have been designed specifically for barn owl breeding and nesting habits.
But before you start sawing and drilling away, don’t forget to procure proper PPE equipment. Be sure to use eye protection, gloves, aprons, and avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing when building these boxes.
This first design plan is modeled after the original design of Steve Simmons. Steve is an avid bird ecologist out of Merced, California who’s done major work in the preservation of barn owls in California’s central valley.
This plan is pretty simple to construct and provides protection to the owls from raccoons and other larger owl species. It has a false entrance chamber with a divider to separate any nesting owls from predators should one try to breech.
The Barn Owl Trust’s nesting box plan constructed a much larger box than the one above. However, it’s of excellent design. It not only provides protection for the owls, but a great drainage system as well. This plan is more difficult to construct than other boxes, and it gets heavy. Installing this box is easily a two-person job.
The State of Kentucky recognizes the importance of barn owls and providing them a proper place to nest. That’s why they’ve put together a handy little pamphlet that shows you how to put together barn owls boxes for both buildings and hanging on trees or poles.
Sometimes barn owls don’t settle strictly outdoors. They’ve earned their name by occasional nesting inside barns! And there’s a difference between how you should construct each box. The RSPB has provided printable plans for both. They don’t hold your hand through the process, so I’d recommend these plans for individuals with a bit more DIY know-how.
This USDA Barn Owl box is the simplest of the designs on this list and can easily be created by just about any experience level. If you’re looking to build a box and teach some young ones while doing so, this is a plan we recommend following.
So, here’s the real question. Why is building barn owl boxes so important (besides the fact that it’s fun to do)?
It’s because barn owls play such a huge role in their ecosystems. They are predatory to small rodents and play a big part in keeping their populations under control. They’re like Mother Nature’s very own pest control.
And this can be used to your advantage. Once barn owls establish a home, the surrounding area becomes their hunting ground. So, if you can establish a breeding location for barn owls, you have effectively gained a valuable resource in controlling rats, mice, gophers, and other varmint on your property.
Once you’ve built your barn owl box and a family has nested, you’ll start to see the fruits of your labor pay off. But that only happens to a point. It’s imperative that you maintain and upkeep your barn owl boxes.
Barn owls are relatively particular about their homes. Being cavity nesters, they must compete with other species in order to find a good home. You don’t want to have other birds or animals living inside your box.
You also are going to want to maintain the cleanliness and integrity of your box. If the box is starting to crack or break, it needs to be repaired. The last thing you want is for the box to suddenly break and go tumbling to the ground—especially with owls inside. Internal cleanliness is also a big thing to maintain. You see, after owls eat, they regurgitate their meals into little pellets. These pellets are then broken apart and used to create the nest. But if this pellet nesting takes up too much space, it’s likely that the owls will relocate to a more spacious home.
Schedule Cleanings in Autmun
But there’s a catch, you need to work around the owls’ schedule.
You really don’t want to mess with the boxes during their nesting season which runs between February and September. At this time, the owls are courting, mating, and raising young within the box. Violating this season will ensure that the owls do not return. And you may have to face off with an angry mother.
Instead, schedule your cleanings between early October to mid-December. The boxes are less likely to have inhabitants making cleanup possible.
Barn owls remain faithful to properly maintained nesting sites. So, be good to the owls, and the owls will be good to you.
Building a barn owl nesting box isn’t too tough. It’s the responsibility that comes with the construction that can be a bit taxing.
But if you’re ready to take that challenge head on and reap the benefits, these free plans are a great place to start.
We hope this article has shed some light into the importance of creating and maintaining a barn owl habitat. It’s truly worth the effort.
Featured Image Credit: The Co-op Group, Flickr
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!