Barn Owl Boxing
So, it seems that there is no bad time to put up a barn owl nest box. Something like planting a tree, with the best time being 20 years ago and the second-best time being now.
Procrastination is the Thief of Time (and my constant companion)
I had thought about it before, especially having seen barn owls ranging over our place a few times over the years. Mid-Summer being the best to time to see them, as I’d imagine that they are forced to forage before dark given the pressures of providing for demanding young ones.
I had thought about it before, along with a load of other on-the-long-finger projects, but hadn’t gotten around to it. It was on the list.
I had thought about it before, as a lot of our sheds and barns today are no longer open to the elements with owls (and swallows) facing real real-estate issues.
I had thought about it before and had managed to do some research into the various options. The UK Barn Owl Trust website proved to be an invaluable source, although the available info wasn’t an exact match for our closed barn. It was enough for me to put off the job for a number of years…
Get Off the Pot!
Anyway, Covid lockdown forces my hand and I mentioned the box to my daughter Aisling, who is doing woodwork in school and she instantly showed interest. Once Aisling gets going, it’s hard to ignore her prodding and ‘reminding’.
Of course, my excuses for not doing it immediately fell on deaf ears and I downloaded plans from https://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/barn-owl-nestbox/barn-owl-nestboxes/
The downloaded plans describe a box that is accessed from inside a building and is mounted high on an internal barn wall. While I do leave a window ajar for swallows, I didn’t think that it would work for owls. So, we decided to mount our box internally on a North-facing wall and cut a 13cm square hole in the wall so that the box could be directly accessed from outside. The plans also show an external exercise platform for fledglings, so we had to figure out how to mount it in our case without risking life and limb.
Anyway, we found enough cutoffs in the workshop to make up a box and we went about it. We got around a few gotchas and built a box out of what we had. For example, it even has what we are calling a water feature, whereby a sewer pipe (part of our rainwater harvesting setup) runs right through the box 😊
Trea decided that it was a good idea to document the build (more Covid-related ideas), which is good because I don’t need to explain it here anymore! If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video may be of incalculable value:
So, for now, we have an aul’ box as opposed to an owl box, but hopefully we’ll get residents in the next season or two. To date, on checking the camera, we’ve had starlings check it out, but luckily so far it doesn’t seem to be up to their exacting standards!
Build or Buy Your Own!
Building a box is not hard, but you can buy one online too. These lads are making them (and other nest boxes in Ireland): https://genesisnestboxes.ie/shop/
Birdwatch Ireland has a page on Barn Owls at https://birdwatchireland.ie/birds/barn-owl/ and also have plans for various nest boxes at: https://birdwatchireland.ie/build-nest-boxes-for-birds-in-your-garden-this-spring/