My daughter recently celebrated her birthday. She wanted to see her old friends back where we used to live, and since that’s closer to family too, we went along with it. It was particularly nice because one friend’s parents offered to host.
The party went well, my daughter had hours to play with some old friends. But the biggest hit was the owl box in the back part of the yard. It had a mother barn owl, father barn owl and two almost grown baby barn owls. They were really neat to see.
Advantages of Owls
Owls are of course predators. They love to eat rodents. Our hosts reported that the gopher population in their yard appears to have significantly decreased since the barn owls took up residence in the box.
Seeing the owls was also really fascinating for the kids. An unusual bit of nature for them to see. At least two owls were visible any time anyone looked, and sometimes you could see all four crowding the door area.
Disadvantages of Owls
There was one big problem – the smell near the owl box was awful. They are predators, after all, and the remains of any food uneaten by the fledgelings plus the scents from their natural bodily functions was pretty bad. But I hear that it gets better after the babies leave, so hopefully that won’t be a problem for long.
Owls can also be noisy. I gather our friends were quite glad to have not had any complaints on this score from their neighbors.
Where to Put an Owl Box
If you want to buy an owl box, make sure you have a place to put one where the owls will feel safe, and any odor won’t bother you or the neighbors. The box we saw was at the back of a fair size yard, and you could not smell anything near the house, which I’m sure was a great relief to the owners.
It needs to be at least 15 feet above ground, and owls certainly won’t mind being higher yet. Don’t put it right where you’re going to be disturbing the owls all the time, and put it near a tree so the owls can enjoy the tree as well.
Don’t expect owls to move in right away. I know this particular box had been up for a year or so before a pair of owls moved in. It just takes time for a possible home to be found sometimes.