About Barn Owl Box Company
The Barn Owl Box Company’s mission is to provide lightweight, long-lasting barn owl boxes that meet high standards for agriculturalists, conservationists, researchers, and property owners while at the same time providing in-depth information on natural rodent control, integrated pest management, and barn owl conservation.
The Barn Owl Box was designed by Mark Browning, animal trainer and field researcher for the Pittsburgh Zoo. Browning has studied barn owls for the past nine years and conducted the first satellite telemetry study of the barn owl's seasonal movements. His idea for a lightweight, long-lasting barn owl box that could be easily installed grew out of his conservation efforts on behalf of this valuable predator.
Mark Browning conducted the first satellite tracking study of young barn owl dispersal.
In conjunction with Moraine Preservation Fund of Western Pennsylvania, and the help of numerous professionals in the field, Browning conducted the first satellite tracking study of barn owl movements. A team of volunteers attached lightweight transmitters to sixteen young barn owls, released them in western Pennsylvania, and tracked them for one year.
Dr. Frank Ammer of Frostburg University and Mark Browning weighing and banding juveniles
The results showed that young barn owls in northern latitudes disperse widely in the late fall and that many go south to the Gulf states. Many of the birds flew over 200 miles in a four day period. One owl flew as far as New Orleans for the winter, a distance of over 1200miles. Another wintered in coastal SouthCarolina and returned to a barn only forty miles from its original release point near Pittsburgh.Data fromsuch studies is helping to formulateconservation efforts for this bird which has declined in manynorthern states.
Early after release, all of our barn owls found their way to freshly mown hayfields.
One of the conclusions taken from the study was that the barn owl is not a good candidate for breed andrelease programs designed to bring back populations of barn owls—particularly in the north-central stateswhere they have declined. This is due to naturally high mortality of young barn owls combined with the fact that the young disperse so widely and only rarely return to their natal areas. Instead, the study shows that conservation efforts are better applied to habitat preservation and enhancement, with a heavy emphasis on nest box erection programs.
For a state by state analysis of barn owl status, go to our Barn Owl by States page.
All of the study’s surviving barn owls dispersed dramatically in the fall. Most went south. This bird wintered in South Carolina, then moved back to within 40 miles of release point near Pittsburgh.