Barn owls for rodent control
Barn owls are superior hunters, preying on small nocturnal mammals including mice, rats, voles, and gophers. One barn owl family can consume 4,000 rodents per year, not including what the offspring will consume after fledging.
Install a nest box to encourage barn owls to your property for natural rodent control!
The right habitat for barn owls
Barn owls need open fields or grassy slopes in which to hunt for prey. To successfully attract barn owls, this type of habitat should be nearby. In urban areas barn owls do well as long as there are hunting grounds nearby, like parks, ball fields, golf course, a cemetery.
Avoid placing a box close to power poles or other dangerous prominent objects.
The nest box needs to be mounted at least 12’ off the ground. It can be mounted inside an open building, like a barn, on the exterior of a building, secured on a post or in a large open tree. Where needed, 24” flashing can be attached to the post or tree to prevent raccoons from climbing and accessing the nest-box.
Ideally, the box should be situated near one or more large trees for the parents to roost in and from which fledglings can begin to explore their world. If there are no trees, consider installing two boxes.
The American barn owl stands at about 14” tall with a wingspan as great as 43”. The Barn Owl Trust, a leading authority on barn owls, recommends increasing their nest box dimensions by 50% for the American barn owl, equating to a floor dimension of 30” X 24” (5 ft2) and a minimum of 10 ft3 for a box that is 24” deep.
Research indicates a female barn owl will remain in a large spacious nest-box tending to her chicks until the youngest is about 3 1/2 to 4 weeks old. Females in confined boxes have been documented leaving prematurely, resulting in the death of the youngest owlets.
In addition to the overall size requirement, the entry hole must be no less than 16" from the floor substrate to keep the chicks from falling out.
At a certain stage, owlets begin food-begging at the entry hole, eager for their parents’ return with a meal. If the entry hole is too low, chicks accidentally fall or get pushed out. Chicks that are 7 weeks or younger are relatively dense, weight-wise, and have yet to develop flight feathers to slow their descent should they fall. We have found countless chicks injured and killed from falls from poorly designed boxes.
Placement of the portal is critical for the welfare of the young owls. The Barn Owl Trust, recommends nest boxes be deep with the entry hole at about 18”.
Our own research has shown that an entry hole placed at 16” - 17” from the floor is sufficient to keep young from accessing the portal until they have lost their density and have developed flight feathers.
Animal welfare concerns
Once the first egg is laid, incubation begins. The female can be expected to stay in the box for about 50 - 60 days, taking only a couple of short flights at night. She needs room.
When there's adequate space, the hen will move off and away from her brood to stretch and groom and defecate. In small confined boxes, she is forced to defecate on or close to the nest.
Small boxes, like those based on the popular Simmon’s design (23” X 12” X 16”), can result in overcrowding, which can cause feather damage and foot injuries in the chicks.
Baby owls need room to grow. The nest should provide ample space for them to hop, and flap their wings and practice pouncing.
Lastly, some male barn owls like to roost in the nest box beside their mate, even after the chicks hatch. Large boxes allow them the opportunity.
If you build it, they will come
In the right environment, barn owls take readily to nest boxes, but, beware, there are a number of poor nest box designs on the market. If you're going to the effort to build or buy and install an owl box, make sure it's a good one.
Buy or build a barn owl nest box
At approximately 22" by 36" and 24" high, our barn owl nest boxes are spacious, providing plenty of room for a large owl family. You can download the most current instructions from the link at the top of the page, or contact us for current pricing and availability.
We also offer remote consulting on placement and installation guidance.
Watch and share your owl family
Keep an eye on what's going on inside your owl box through an infrared security camera.
We recommend Axis Network Cameras (about $400.00) or less expensive Reolink Argus 2 or Argus Eco with solar panel (less than $100.00).
Research suggests at least 91% of wild barn owls have been exposed to anticoagulants from consuming rodents that have eaten poison.
Remove poison from your property. The owls will be your new pest control service providers!