World Bird Sanctuary has worked or is working with several corporations on nest box placement programs to insure the survival of many song bird species. Within the past 20 years, the population of songbirds has decreased by 15 to 30 percent, depending on the location.
Today we face a tremendous challenge; protecting endangered or rare songbird populations from becoming extinct and protecting populations of those still common species from becoming threatened. One way for private citizens to assist in the protection of habitat is by identifying and developing management strategies for high priority songbird habitat. You can also help by enforcing zoning regulations and by assisting in the purchase of easements. The construction and placement of nesting boxes is perhaps the most direct way individuals and groups can become involved. This is an especially unique opportunity because it allows private individuals to truly participate in the protection of species and in some instances in the preservation of endangered species. Conservation is not a philosophy, but a way of life that ensures continued life for songbirds and other species.
Build A Barn Owl Nest Box
Please study the diagram for proper construction. The sides are first fastened to the front. The back and bottom are attached afterwards. If a top is used it should be put on after the box is installed.
Use one 4’ x 8’ sheet of at least 1/2 inch plywood. Pressure treated plywood is recommended. Space about nine drain holes, 1/4 to 1/2 inch in the bottom board. Since Barn Owls do not bring nest material to their nests, cover the bottom with 1 or 2 inches of pine or aspen shavings. Do not paint the inside of the box.
Make sure upon completion of the box that no nails or screws are protruding out of the wood that would cause injury to the inhabitants. Barn Owls prefer to nest in buildings that they can gain access to. Boxes should be secured firmly to a stud high on the supporting structure walls, approximately two-thirds the distance between the floor and the ceiling. This gives owls easy access to the box opening and protection from predators like raccoons, snakes and cats.
The nest box will also work when wired high in a large tree with the opening placed away from prevailing winds. When placing the box outside install a 30 inch high metal sleeve around the base of the tree preventing predators from climbing up to the box.
Rural areas usually provide the best sites in which to place the box. This includes open grasslands that have some grazing, low growing crop fields, such as alfalfa, and where grain spillage results in a high rodent population. Heavily wooded areas are not recommended because of Great Horned Owl predation.
If you are trying to encourage Barn Owls to nest, it is highly recommended to discontinue the use of rodent pesticides.
Even though Barn Owl populations in the midwest are dwindling, the World Bird Sanctuary is working hard to ensure their survival in Missouri. With the help of the Missouri Department of Conservation, in the mid 1980’s WBS released over 600 young Barn Owls, hatched at WBS, to increase their numbers in the wild. Even with these releases, the Barn Owl continues to be a very uncommon species in eastern Missouri, even though good habitat still remains. With the help of concerned citizens, WBS is again releasing Barn Owls in Eastern Missouri.