Welcome Barn Owls!
Barn Owls are fairly common residents in most of North America, but they are a species in decline and could use some help. They frequently nest or roost in abandoned barns or buildings. They also have a long history of rodent control on farms and ranches, and many farmers know the benefits of attracting a Barn owl to their land. Rats, voles and meadow mice are some of the Barn owl's favorite treats. In fact, during one nesting season, a clutch of six owlets can consume nearly seventy pounds of rodents!
If you are looking to attract a Barn owl to your place, and you live on a farm or have a larger property, you can build a Barn owl nesting box. Barn owls do not build nests, but lay their eggs in holes in trees, rocky bluffs or in man-made cavities. It is important to place the box in a wooded area or along an open field with only a few trees. The box should be hung about three feet below a strong branch on which the owl may perch. It should be far enough away from human activity that the birds feel comfortable as human disturbance will cause Barn owls to abandon their nesting site. If you are successful in attracting a pair of owls, be sure to minimize activity in the area.
The nest box itself is fairly easy to construct with just a few tools and some inexpensive supplies. Make sure you put a predator guard at the entrance so the babies are safe from predation. Your family could spend an afternoon building the box and spend the nesting season enjoying your owls! Click here for more information on how to make your own Barn Owl box!
These birds will nest in April or May so be sure to put the box out well ahead of their arrival. If owls do nest in your nesting box, or you have hawks or owls in the area, don't put out rodenticide as it also kills the hawks and owls who eat the rodents. A resident owl family will do a really good job of controlling rodents on their own!