Owl Nest Boxes
Owl boxes are larger than usual garden bird nest boxes and are shaped according to the needs of the owl you’re hoping to attract.
Tawny owl boxes are like a tube which mimics the hollow tree branches of their natural nesting sites, whereas little owl boxes are long with a hole in the top. As long as it is safe to do so you can also leave any hollow branches on your trees to provide a natural nesting place for tawny owls.
Little owls prefer small cavities in which to nest and a little owl box will have a small chamber inside, similar to the design of other bird species’ nest boxes such as woodpeckers and jackdaws.
Nest boxes for barn owls are large and square or triangular shaped and they have a ledge outside the entrance for the young owls to perch on.
A tawny owl box should be attached to a tree at a 45° angle. A little owl box needs to be about 3m above the ground although in the wild little owls will not only nest in trees but on cliffs and down rabbit holes. And a barn owl box should be fixed to a solitary tree on the edge of woodland about 3-5m from the ground.
Position the owl nest box so the entrance faces away from the prevailing wind which will make it easier for the parent owls to fly towards it and it won’t be draughty inside for the chicks. Make sure that the owl box has been planed to leave no sharp edges and all nails are hammered in. Try not to damage the trunk if fixing your box to a tree.
It may take a full year before your owl box is used as birds often choose a nesting site during the autumn, winter or early spring. Leaving your box up in winter will provide a good roosting place in cold weather.
When cleaning your box make sure that all the young have left – tawny owls in particular can be very aggressive when defending their young – and remember you can only legally remove any unhatched eggs between October and January and you must destroy them. (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).