National Nest Box Week

National Nest Box Week is upon us! We’re being encouraged across the nation to put nest boxes in our gardens for Blue Tits, Great Tits, Sparrows and Robins. But what about our larger bird species, such as Owls? Can building and erecting nest boxes for these birds help; do owls use nest boxes?

Our friends at the Barn Owl Trust tell us that yes, they do.

Barn, Tawny and Little Owls in Britain will take readily to nest boxes if they are made correctly and erected in a suitable place. Nest boxes can be of great benefit, especially in areas where there is plenty of food available but a shortage of suitable nesting or roosting sites. Barn Owls will use both isolated buildings and barns in busy yards. The ideal building for an indoor nest box will have access high above the ground and afford good shelter. Most modern barns are suitable for Barn Owls once a nest box has been installed, but many traditional barns are far from ideal. These can easily be improved by the installation of a good nest box. Indoor nest boxes can be constructed are easy to construct – download instructions from The Barn Owl Trust and get hammering!

Tree hollows are also used by Barn Owls and boxes can be placed in trees, although outdoor boxes are more likely to be used by other species than those in buildings. If you’re tempted to build one yourself, plans for outdoor nestboxes can also be downloaded from The Barn Owl Trust.

The best nest boxes have the access hole at the top to reduce the incidence of owlets falling from the nest site. Unlike most other bird species, once an owlet falls from the nest site it is ignored by the parents and will either starve to death or be predated. Another point to mention is that Barn Owls look for holes not boxes – when making an entry into a building or positioning a nest box in a tree, make sure the hole is visible to any passing owl.

For more barn owl, little owl or tawny owl nest box tips and information check the Barn Owl Trust‘s website.

Thanks to Maxine Chavner, Assistant Conservation Officer for the Barn Owl Trust for this blog!

Photo via Flickr: ChrisBravoTown

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