Bluebird Facts

Posted by barnowlbox
on May 15, 2013
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BARN_OWL_WESTERN_BLUEBIRD

  • Bluebirds begin breeding in early to late March in most areas.
  • Breeding begins with males staking out potential nest sites and advertising them to prospective females with display flights and calls.
  • Once the female chooses a site, she alone will build the nest and brood the eggs.
  • Nests are built with grass, hay, and pine needles with an inner liner of softer grass, hair, and feathers. Construction takes about 10 days.
  • Four to six powder blue eggs form each clutch.
  • The male provides the family with beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects as well as various berries throughout the nesting period.
  • Bluebird young leave the nest fully grown at 15 days and begin feeding on their own. A year later they are ready to raise young of their own.
  • Bluebirds can raise as many as four families a season, breeding into late summer.
  • Northern populations migrate in the winter; southern birds remain sedentary.
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Screech Owl Facts

Posted by barnowlbox
on May 15, 2013
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screech-owl

  • The screech owl does not really screech. Its main calls are a soft tremolo and a whinny. The western screech owl call sounds like a bouncing ball.
  • Screech owls are easily attracted to nest boxes.
  • Screech owls eat mainly rodents.
  • Eastern and Western Screech Owl ranges combine to cover most of the U.S.
  • Preferred screech owl habitat is broken woods, gardens, and backyards.
  • Screech owls can easily be called down for observation by imitating screech owl calls or playing recordings of screech owls.
  • Screech owls are common in suburban settings, even within heavily populated areas.
  • Eastern screech owls can be red or gray, even in the same brood.
  • Western screech owls come in brown and gray phases.
  • The rotomolded Screech Owl Nest Box made by the Barn Owl Box Company will far outlast wooden nest boxes.
  • The lack of suitable nesting sites is often the greatest limiting factor for screech owl populations.
  • Screech owls prefer nest boxes over natural cavities, mainly because most natural cavities are more cramped than manmade boxes.
  • Neither Eastern or Western screech owls migrate, remaining permanent residents.
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Kestrel Facts

Posted by barnowlbox
on May 15, 2013
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kestrel

  • Combine day-hunting kestrels with nocturnal-hunting barn owls to hit rodent populations around the clock.
  • During breeding season, a kestrel family can consume upwards of 500 voles or mice, and a large number of injurious insects including grasshoppers and locusts.
  • Numerous farmers of various crops have been erecting kestrel boxes for decades.
    An added benefit is simply having these beautiful, acrobatic hunters around.
  • The kestrel does not build a nest but instead relies on taking over crevices, hollows in trees, and the nests of other birds. This makes it easy to attract them to nest boxes.
  • The lack of suitable nesting sites is often the greatest limiting factor for kestrel populations.
  • Kestrels prefer nest boxes over natural cavities, mainly because most natural cavities are more cramped than manmade boxes.
  • The kestrel is an inhabitant of open fields, croplands, and orchards.
  • Once widely known as “the sparrow hawk”, the name kestrel is now more commonly used.
  • Although kestrels generally migrate southward in the winter, they return to their previous territories and nest sites year after year.
  • Females tend to winter farther south than males.
  • A kestrel family will eat upwards of 500 voles or mice per year as well as numerous grasshoppers and locusts.
  • Kestrels generally begin breeding in early April or May, but often breeding activity reaches its peak in early June.
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Barn Owl Biology Facts

Posted by barnowlbox
on May 15, 2013
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  • The seventeen species of barn owls are so different than from all the other 200-plus owls in the world that they are placed in their own taxonomic division. This difference is manifested not only in the physiology of barn owls, but also in their behavior. Barn owl species are far more tolerant of man, far more attracted to man-made dwellings, far less territorial, and have much larger broods than most other species of owls.
  • Barn owls are so tolerant of other barn owls that they will often form colonies. An abandoned steel mill in Utah was discovered to harbor over 30 barn owls that hunted the surrounding area. A single barn in central Florida was recently found to contain 10 pairs of barn owls, all of them raising chicks. It was estimated that these 10 pairs and their young harvested between 15,000 and 25,000 cotton rats from the surrounding sugar cane fields annually.
  • Although barn owls tend to breed in the early spring, they have been recorded breeding in every month of the year, even in states as far north as Pennsylvania. Not only is this unusual behavior for other owls, it is unusual for birds of any kind.
  • Other names for the barn owl are Ghost Owl, White Owl, Night Owl, Hissing Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Church Owl, Death Owl, Rat Owl, Demon Owl, and Golden Owl.
  • Barn owls are the most widespread owl and one of the most widespread land birds in the world. They exist on every continent except Antarctica, and even inhabit many island chains where they have morphed into many subspecies.
  • The barn owl is highly adaptive to prey availability. In Spain the barn owl hunts mostly house mice. In Austria they have been known to take bats. In some areas of the midwestern United States they have taken good numbers of red-winged blackbirds. And on a few occasions, they have even been observed successfully catching fish.
  • Recent research shows that young barn owls in the northern states disperse dramatically in the fall. In fact, some birds have flown as far as 1200 miles. But barn owls have traditionally been thought of as sedentary species, having been seen in winter by farmers around in barns going back for decades. It turns out that the young do disperse before their first winter, but it is the adults, who own good territory, that tend to stay.
  • Despite standing over a foot tall with a three-foot wingspan, barn owls weigh only about a pound. This low ratio of weight to wing size allows the barn owl to fly slowly and deliberately over fields while it searches by sight and sound for its prey below.
  • Spearheaded by the University of Tel Aviv, Israel has one of the most robust barn owl nest box projects in the world. Communal farms have reported such success with erecting hundreds of nest boxes around the country that Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided to fund and expand the project.
  • Barn owls can hear so well that researchers believe they can distinguish which species of rodents they are hearing from the sounds the rodents make as they run along the ground. In one study, it was found that barn owls were capturing pregnant voles at a much higher ratio than existed in the population, showing that they were selecting the fatter voles over the others—most likely through their keen auditory senses.
  • “For the pocket gopher… barn owls…can represent a substantial biological control that can be manipulated with the placement of barn owl nest boxes around and in the orchard. Research work in California examined contents of barn owl nest boxes in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley around prunes, vines and pecans. Results showed pocket gophers represented over 50 percent of the barn owl diet representing an average of 215 gophers ‘taken’ during the breeding and nestling phase….” California Fish and Wildlife Service
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