- Rugged construction of molded plastic
- Weight of only 5.5 pounds
- 3” entrance hole
- 16” high with a 9” x 9” floor
- An interior mesh ladder beneath the entrance hole for birds to climb
- A large rainguard above the entrance hole
- Unique “vent wings” that allow air in but keep moisture out
- A 6” x 8” access panel for checking on nests and cleaning
- A unique, alternative bracket system for mounting box to a wooden post, tree, or outbuilding
Where to Install Screech Owl Nest Boxes
Screech owl nest boxes should be erected approximately 10 feet off the ground on medium to large sized tree trunks, beneath the shade of foliage. Direction for screech owl nest boxes does not matter. Screech owls are known to prefer the park-like surroundings of most suburban homes and do not mind the comings and goings of human inhabitants. The best habitat is similar to many yards and gardens where a variety of shrubs and trees grow with open space between. Place 2 to 3 inches of garden mulch in the bottom of the nest box prior to breeding season (February in the south; March in the north).
Screech owls are cavity nesters–so much so that the lack or abundance of nesting cavities in trees and nest boxes is often the limiting factor to their populations. Screech owl nest boxes have been shown to increase numbers of these little owls.
No sound of evening is as melodious as the soft, subdued song of the screech owl. Far from a screech, the sounds that emanate from the song box of this small owl are the gentlest, sweetest music of the owl world. It would seem that the misnomer must have originated when an observer heard the ungodly scream of a barn owl while looking at a “screech owl.” No matter how it occurred, no more inaccurate name of a bird exists in the literature.
The screech owl, represented by the eastern and western races, with a range throughout the United States, is not only a common resident of woodlands, but also commonly makes its home in urban and suburban backyards and gardens. Here it is easily attracted to suitable nest boxes where it will raise as many as six young. The screech owl preys on mice, voles, and large insects such as moths and beetles. It has even been known to take crayfish.
Eastern screech owls come in two color phases; a gray phase and a red phase, pictured to the left. Both color phases can occur in the same brood of chicks.
Observing Screech Owls
The first sign that you may have a screech owl living on your property may be the presence of white droppings on the ground and vegetation. These will be concentrated beneath the perch where the screech owl sits quietly during the day or hunts from at night. Normally there will be little sign of presence beneath the nest box. Instead, once screech owls occupy their owl house, they will tend to sit in the entrance hole for up to an hour before they leave to hunt, watching the world outside. This happens around sundown, while there is still plenty of light to observe them.
Another method of observing screech owls is to call them to a tape, or imitate their tremolo songs while holding a flashlight. Once you a screech owl call back, you want to wait and continue calling until the owl is quite close. Then you can turn on your flashlight. The screech owl will be on high alert, wanting to know if a rival screech owl has entered his territory. So, when calling these little owls from their owl houses and perches, be aware that you are possibly interrupting their seasonal activities. For this reason, do not call them to excess.
Owl House Maintenance
Screech owl nest boxes need little maintenance, but there are few things to keep in mind. If screech owls have nested in the nest box, they will definitely be done breeding by the fall. This is a good time to open up the access panel and remove the mulch you placed in it in the spring, and replace it.
Screech owls may use the nest box through the winter as one of their daytime roosts. On the other hand, screech owls may move away from your area a slight distance, then return in spring. One thing to watch for is occupation by squirrels, which will winter in screech owl nest boxes. Usually the squirrels move out by early spring when screech owls are ready to breed. However, if squirrel occupation does become a problem, you may want to plug the nest box entrance hole until late February when screech owl breeding season begins.