|A family of barn owls comes out of their hollow tree|
Upon reading that a nesting pair and their young can eat more than 1000 rodents per year, I began making and installing barn owl nest boxes on and around our property. I felt that additional nesting sites would help establish a local colony. Given the declining number of barns and large old trees with hollow nesting cavities, it turns out that nest boxes are a sure way to encourage owls to live and breed in an area.
|Four young barn owls in their tree trunk nest|
|The same owls just two weeks later|
I would strongly encourage anyone with rodent problems, or anyone just wanting to encourage owl populations, to consider putting up a nesting box or two. Just Google "barn owl nest boxes" and you'll get a wealth of information.
|Young owls in a plywood nesting box|
Above are five young barn owls inside one of my nest boxes. Note the age difference - the mother lays an egg every day or two, but begins sitting after the first egg is layed, resulting in staggered hatching and quite an age difference among the chicks.
|Seven young owls crowded in their box|
Above is one of the adults, relegated to roosting in a tree since the nest box was overcrowded with young.
This adult peeks out of his box. I locate the boxes to give the owls
as much privacy and safety as possible, but it is a great joy to catch
a glimpse of them using binoculars or a telephoto lens.
|A young owl takes his first tentative hop,|
from the nest opening to a nearby branch