Owl boxes

The Birder's Market | Resource | Garden Birds | Nest boxes for birds |  Owl boxes

Nestboxes for owls and kestrels

Nestboxes for owls and kestrels

Advice from the RSPB
Many larger species of birds that nest in cavities in trees or in older, undisturbed, buildings are having difficulty finding suitable nesting sites, as trees are felled or blown over and buildings are knocked down or converted.

Well designed and properly sited boxes undoubtedly help. About half the UK population of barn owls now nests in boxes provided by man.

Barn and tawny owls readily take to boxes in areas where they have suitable food to support themselves and their chicks. Little owls (right) will use boxes but tend not to have as much difficulty in finding nesting sites as they need much smaller cavities than the larger species. Kestrels will take readily to boxes as do stock doves. Jackdaws can be a problem, as they may take over boxes intended for other species.

Little Owl Nest Box

Little Owl Nest Box
Siting a box

Siting a box

Nestboxes should be installed by November to give the best chance of success the following year, although it may take several years before a new box is used.

Barn owl (right) and kestrel boxes should be located either on isolated farmland trees or at the edge of a woodland, overlooking open land. Tawny owl boxes are best positioned within a woodland. All species require good visibility from the nest and a clear flight path to it. Ideally face the box south-east, but most importantly it needs to face away from prevailing wind direction.

Large nestboxes are heavy and great care must be taken when putting them up, especially when using ladders. The boxes only need to be sited at around 10 to 15 feet (3-5m) high to be successful, though in some circumstances, e.g. if there is a significant risk of vandalism, a higher position may be desirable even though it will make installation, monitoring and maintenance more difficult.

Make sure the box is firmly and securely fixed to its support. Fixing a box to a tree with nails may damage the tree or cause problems when it is ultimately felled. Galvanised nails and screws are preferable to wire ones, but nylon bolts are probably even better.

Alternatively, boxes can be fitted to trees with a length of wire inside a piece of hose or other protection around the trunk. Trees grow and fixings should be checked from time to time. Angle the box so that the floor slopes slightly away from the entrance. Should the eggs roll about, this ensures that they remain in the sheltered end of the box.

Barn Owl Nest box

The Birder's Market | Resource | Garden Birds | Nest boxes for birds |  Owl boxes

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