Barn Owl Boxes for Sale at Discount Prices

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DISCOUNT BARN OWL BOXES

The Barn Owl Box Company provides substantial discounts on our cutting-edge nest boxes for quantity purchases. Our molded plastic nest boxes for barn owls were designed by a leading owl researcher. They are lightweight, long-lasting, very simple to install and maintain, and remain cool in full sun.

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The Barn Owl Box Company Pole Model

The Post Model, our most popular model, features a landing ledge and perch, a rain guard over the entrance hole, an acrylic viewing window in the rear, and comes with all of the hardware for mounting to a metal or wooden pole or post.

The Post Model actually consists of two boxes: a dark liner slides into the white outer box to keep the box dark for the owls. An airspace between the two helps keep the box cool in full sun. This nest box will far outlast wooden nest boxes.

Quantity Discounts for Farmers

Nest boxes surrounding Vino Farms

Researchers recommend one barn owl box for every ten to twenty acres

As a promoter of using barn owls for natural rodent control programs, we lower the prices for farmers who need to erect multiple boxes to achieve control over populations of rodent pests. Numerous research projects have shown that a density of one box for every ten to twenty acres is optimum for integrated pest management programs.  Many vineyards and orchards have achieved this level of barn owl density to reduce populations of voles and pocket gophers.

We initially designed the Barn Owl Box so that units slid into one another, allowing up to 20 nest boxes to fit on a single pallet. This lowers our freight costs and allows us to discount our barn owl boxes considerably for large purchases.

Growers of grapes, citrus, cherries, blueberries, almonds, walnuts, sugar cane, and row crops have all benefited from our quantity discounts. The following price breaks are available:

Discount Sale Prices

Barn Owl Box Pole Model:  Retail Price: $185; 8 to 10 Unit Discount: $170; 11 to 20 Unit Discount: $160.

Savings on a full pallet of Barn Owl Boxes is $500.00. For purchases of more than one pallet, even greater discounts are available.

To inquire about our barn owl box discounts call the Barn Owl Box Company on our toll-free number at 1-877-NESTBOX (1-877-637-8269).

Read more about our Post Model Barn Owl Box.

How to Build or Buy a Barn Owl Nest Box

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Choosing a Barn Owl Box that Works

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Barn owls can easily be attracted to nest boxes

Barn owls have become very popular to attract for various reasons. Owners of vineyards, orchards, and farms have found that barn owls can significant reduce damage by crop-eating rodents. Property owners can benefit the same way with sometimes no more than one or two nest boxes. Conservationists are finding that erecting owl houses is the best way for bringing back numbers of barn owls in areas where they have declined. And bird lovers simply love having them around to enjoy the opportunity of watching these white-faced, golden winged raptors sail out over a field at dusk on the hunt.

The popularity of attracting barn owls has resulted in a wide range of barn owls box designs, both do-it-yourself and those that are marketed commercially. Often, these designs do not take into account the biology and daily needs of these large owls. With so many versions of nest box to choose from, some excellent, some not so good, this article is intended to help barn owl enthusiasts make wise decisions about which elements are ideal for successfully attracting and housing these beautiful raptors.

The Five Most Important Design Elements for a Barn Owl Box

This barn owl box is shallow but long

This barn owl box is shallow but long

1. Appropriate Size:  Too many barn owl box designs create a nest box that might be only 18” deep. While this size can attract a breeding pair, keep in mind that barn owls produce an extraordinary number of young—seven is quite common. And keep in mind that the entire brood of owls must reach adult size inside that nest box before fledging, each of them 12 to 14 inches high, and flapping their wings in preparation for flight. In such small boxes, flight feathers are damaged, smaller birds are not found to receive food, and young birds are pushed accidentally from their nest boxes. In short, fewer birds survive from such owl houses. Rule of thumb: select designs that are at least 24” deep, 18” high, and 18” wide.

2. Size of Entrance Hole:  Many designs err on the size of the entrance hole, usually making them too large. All cavity nesting birds, including barn owls, prefer an entrance hole that is just large enough for them to squeeze through, but too small for larger animals that might prey on the eggs or chicks. Numerous designs dictate a six or seven inch hole. This is far too large and may cause barn owls to shun such a nest box. Other designs call for a hole as small as 4 ½” inches. Although some barn owls can fit through, barn owls vary in size, with females being larger than males and American barn owls larger than those in Europe. Choose a design with a 5” to 5 ½” entrance hole.

3. Location of Entrance Hole:   A number of designs call for an entrance hole that is almost level with the floor. This is a poor choice because the ever curious and rambunctious young tend to crowd toward the entrance hole as they get older. This design allows for them to fall out way too early. Always pick a design with the entrance hole at least six inches off the floor.

Wooden boxes should be painted white to keep them cool

Wooden boxes should be painted white to keep them cool and repainted every year or two

4. Color:  Many wooden boxes are left natural to blend into the environment. While this may satisfy certain aesthetics, the problem is that most wooden boxes are heat traps especially in western and southern states. As the sun beats down on dark wood, the interior can become excessively hot. Biologists have found young owls, too young to leave the nest, on the ground where they took refuge from the stifling heat inside wooden boxes. If you do buy or make a wooden box, be sure to paint the entire outside with bright white paint to reduce heat absorption and plan to repaint every year or two.

5. Material:  Most commercially made boxes and available plans use half-inch plywood.

Plywood boxes tend to deteriorate over time

Plywood boxes tend to deteriorate over time

The problem with such thin ply is that, after the expense and labor of construction and installation, half inch plywood deteriorates rapidly in sun and rain. The alternate choice, ¾ to 1” plywood will last somewhat longer. The problem with thicker ply is that it creates a box that is very heavy and difficult to install. So, when it comes to plywood owl houses, the choice is between longer life and ease of installation. If you are buying a wooden box, ask the builder the thickness of the wood.

Using these basic guidelines, you should be able to select either a do-it-yourself plan or a ready-made owl house that will provide an ideal environment for a barn owl family. For more information on our own manufactured designs, go to our Product Page. Our two molded plastic models, are pictured below. We offer one design for putting on poles, The Pole Model, and another for inserting into barns and outbuildings, The Barn Model. Good luck with your barn owls!

Post-ModelBarn Owl flying from barn model

 

 

 

Installing Barn Owl Nest Boxes: Best Methods

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How to Install Barn Owl Boxes for Success in Controlling Rodents

The History of Using Barn Owls for Natural Rodent Control

Three barn owls about 4 weeks oldBarn owls have now been used for decades by U.S. vintners, orchardists, and property owners as a means of natural rodent control. California has led this effort, with thousands of nest boxes erected on farm land. If you travel anywhere in the state, you will see large barn owl boxes on tall poles situated here and there in the landscape. Other states are beginning to use barn owl nest boxes in increasing numbers. But barn owls were first used in extensive nest box programs in Israel, Malaysia, and South East Asia. These large owls are uniquely suited for rodent control programs due to their voracious appetites, high production of chicks, and attraction to nest boxes. Their willingness to live in close proximity to other barn owls allows for the attraction of dense populations. So the potential for creating barn owl nest box programs that can significantly reduce rodent populations is good whether you own a thousand acres of vines or a small property.

However, as with any rodent control approach, it is important to utilize methods that are effective. Important questions that are most often asked are (1) How many owl houses should be installed for a given acreage? (2) Where should the nest boxes be placed? (3) How high off the ground should the nest boxes be installed? (4) Do barn owls prefer a certain direction for their entrance holes to face? (5) Should substrate be added to the floor of the nest box? (6) Which species of rodents are barn owls effective against? (6) How often should I clean a barn owl box?

The Barn Owl Box Company Research Project

Adult barn owl emerging from nest boxIn order to help answer these questions and provide farmers and property owners with practical information for establishing barn owl populations, the Barn Owl/Rodent Project was begun in early 2011 on a 100 acre vineyard located near Elk Grove, CA. Eventually 25 nest boxes were erected along the perimeter of the vineyard, facing in four directions, NE, SE, NW, and SW. In 2011, eleven nest boxes became occupied by breeding pairs. These 22 adults fledged 44 young that year. In 2012, eighteen boxes housed breeding pairs and these 36 adults fledged 66 young, for a total of 102 owls hunting the vineyard. This was by far the largest population of barn owls ever attracted to such a confined area, illustrating just how colonial barn owls are and just how many of them can be attracted to a small area in a short period of time.

Our research team not only monitored nest box occupation of adults and chicks, but also conducted a monthly census of pocket gopher activity (the most prevalent rodent in the study area). These two ongoing surveys gave us two lines of data that we could compare to determine if barn owl numbers had a correlation to rodent activity. We also collected and analyzed the contents of the regurgitated pellets found at the occupied nest boxes. This showed us which rodents were being taken, and how much each species contributed to the barn owl diet. And in 2013, we installed cameras in two occupied nest boxes to tabulate how many prey items were being brought in over the course of the breeding season. This information has allowed us to determine how many rodents are taken annually by a given number of barn owls in a setting similar to that of our study area.

Frequently Asked Questions about Barn Owl Boxes

barn-owl-1(1)    How many nest boxes should be installed for a given acreage? Of all the questions, this must be the most important to the farmer or property owner. Too often we have seen fifty and one hundred acre plots with one or two nest boxes installed. The problem is the high reproductive rate of rodents. The barn owl population must get ahead and stay ahead of that reproductive rate. Keep in mind that on irrigated land, rodent pests and reproduce at a rate 500% greater than on non-irrigated land. Our study showed that you could establish a pair of barn owls, at least for one season, for every five and a half acres. Our feeling is that this may have been, forgive the pun, overkill. Our best educated projection is that, on irrigated farmland, one box for every ten acres may be an excellent starting point. Another, more conservative approach, would be to establish one box for every twenty acres, then wait and see what the barn owls tell you. If you get nearly 100% occupancy, consider adding boxes. In the end, a barn owl population will act much like any population of predators in the wild: eventually the prey is thinned out, and the predator numbers go down. Then, in subsequent years, as the prey population re-establishes itself, predators (especially ones that fly) return. The difference now is that the farmland is being kept far more in balance than it was prior to the establishment of barn owls.

(2)    Where should the nest boxes be placed? Since barn owls fan out over the surrounding land to hunt the most productive areas, the answer is that nest boxes can be placed in the most convenient locations for the farmer, out of the way of machinery and other operations. Boxes can be placed as little as fifty feet apart since barn owls are not territorial. It would be good practice, where possible, to locate them away from power lines and highly traveled roads.

(3)    How high off the ground should the nest boxes be installed? Information persists on the internet and by word-of-mouth that barn owl nest boxes need be placed at ten or twelve feet or even “as high as possible.” The fact is that barn owls will nest on the ground, in the ground, and have been observed breeding in nest boxes five feet off the ground. Our study showed that eight feet up is an excellent height. Higher installations are not only unnecessary, but they add extra expense to a nest box program, and make maintenance of nest boxes more difficult.

(4)    Do barn owls prefer a certain direction for their entrance holes to face? Experience has shown that barn owls will nest in any direction. However, our study has shown a preference for easterly facing directions (NE, SE, or E). This is a thermoregulatory choice: easterly facing directions warm up with the rising sun after cool nights; likewise, they are cooler in the heat of the afternoon. Southwest was the least preferred direction.

(5)    Should substrate be added to the floor of the nest boxes? Word-of-mouth sometimes indicates that substrate is not needed—that the barn owls use their own pellets for substrate. But this is ill advised: barn owls do not produce pellets fast enough to cover the bottom of the nest box, and the eggs roll around on smooth floors and are easily broken. Always add three or four inches of bark mulch to the entire floor. We have seen barn owls shun boxes without substrate. Get the large pieced bark mulch instead of the finely ground material.

(6)    Which species of rodent are barn owls effective against? Barn owls are highly adaptive, eating the most prevalent rodents in their area. In sugar cane they eat the very common cotton rat. In rice, they eat marsh rice rats. In areas of California where the vole is most common, that becomes their most common prey, and likewise for areas inhabited by pocket gophers. In our study, the barn owls consumed approximately 80% pocket gophers, and 20% voles, with occasional rats.

(7) How often should a barn owl box be cleaned, and what time of year? Barn owls neither bring nesting material to the nest box, nor do they clean their own nests. After breeding season, between October and December, is the best time. But check for occupancy first! Barn owls are known to breed in the off season as well. Simply removed the old mulch and replace it with new. This should take only fifteen minutes or so per box.

Join those Using Barn Owls for Conservation and Rodent Control

Attracting barn owls in areas they already live is easy by putting up an owl house. Once established, barn owls remain faithful to their nesting sites. And the sight of a barn owl slowly traversing a field in search of rodents is a riveting experience.

Patent Granted to Barn Owl Box Company

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The Barn Owl Box Company is happy to announce that we have been granted patent on our innovative design for nest boxes made from rotomolded plastic. Our designs are lightweight, very long lasting, easy to install, and resist heating in full sun. They are designed with the needs and behaviors of the birds in mind.

Barn Owl Box Company Adds Bluebird and Wren Houses to Product Line

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The Barn Owl Box Company has just added two new products to its line: cutting edge nest boxes for bluebirds and for wrens and songbirds. Made with the same innovative design as the very successful Barn Owl Nest Box, these two new nest boxes are made of molded plastic, are extremely lightweight, and very long lasting. Each features the proper sized entrance hole, a rain guard, rainproof vents, an interior ladder, and an access panel. Navigate our Product Menu to learn more.

Barn Owl Box Offers Two New Products

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number-2Announcing two new products from the Barn Owl Box Company! Learn about our innovative Kestrel Nest Box and Screech Owl Nest Box designed to help with pest management programs.

California State Fair

California-State-Fair-LogoSince Mark Browning delivered three days of talks on barn owls at the California State Fair in 2011, a sample nest box has stood on the grounds in the agricultural section.

 

Post Gazette Reports Satellites Will Keep An Eye On Barn Owls

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Photo by Bill Wade, Post-Gazette

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s barn owl program has seven babies and two adults being raised at a private Fox Chapel location. They will be released into the wild with transmitters

Sixteen barn owls that were bred in captivity will be carrying some baggage when they are released into the wild tomorrow.

For the first time, transmitter harnesses will be put on the birds so that satellites can track them.

“That gives us a really good chance to find out where they’re going,” said Mark Browning, animal trainer and head of the barn owl release project at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Eight of the 11 birds that the zoo will release in Fox Chapel tomorrow will carry trackers. The Moraine Preservation Fund will put devices on another eight birds that will be released from Moraine State Park.

The project is part of an effort to re-establish barn owl populations in Western Pennsylvania. Partly because they’re nocturnal, it’s hard to tell how many of them are in the region.

According to director Heather Cuyler Jerry, the preservation fund has released about 250 birds in the last seven years, but doesn’t have much information about how they’ve fared since they were released from captivity.

Data from the satellite telemetry project, which was partly funded by a grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation, could help shape the barn owl program in coming years by revealing favored nesting areas, she said.

The trackers “will transmit for about nine months and give us an opportunity to see what kind of territory they [barn owls] reject and what kind of territory they accept,” Browning said.

Dan Brauning, wildlife diversity supervisor for the state game commission, was excited to hear about the project.

“They’re doing satellite telemetry? Wow!” he said. “From a research standpoint, it’s absolutely the right thing to do.”

Browning said the harness is an intricate sling of Teflon ribbons that, like a parachute harness, wraps around above and below the bird’s wing and meets at the back. A fine antenna curves behind the bird, where it should not hinder normal activities.

When it was first put on, the equipment was easy to spot. The transmitter is about 2.5 inches long and weighs a little more than half an ounce.

Now, “all you see is the antenna because they’ve been systematically preening everything in,” Browning said. “So now they’re cool and everything is hidden.”

He is working with Frank Ammer, a DNA specialist at Frostburg State University in Maryland to collect blood samples from owls that are about to be released.

So, “if we eventually go out there and find a nest of baby birds and take blood from one of them, we may be able to tell if it’s related to one of ours,” Browning said.

Barn owls were probably a rare bird when pioneers first came to a heavily forested Pennsylvania.

The numbers likely increased dramatically because people “cleared the fields where barn owls like to hunt, they probably created higher populations of rodents and they built beautiful wooden barns where barn owls could nest easily,” Browning said.

But the few barns that are built now tend to be metal prefab buildings that owls can’t call home, and the population has dwindled.

Conservationists like Browning would like to see the population grow and, to help boost it, they have not only bred baby owls for release into the wild, but also provided them with nest boxes to live in.

A good nest box, Browning explained, is about 30 inches long, more than a foot high and about 2 feet deep. That should be enough room for the parents and a clutch of about a half-dozen babies. Barn owls can be nearly 2 feet tall.

“As tall as they are and as big as they look, they only weigh about 1 pound,” he noted. “They’re a lot of fluff.”

The zoo has three breeding pairs. One is kept at the Highland Park facility, in a newly built exhibit near the Kid’s Kingdom. Another pair is housed by the National Aviary on the North Side.

A third duo and their seven young, about 90 days old, are kept at a specially built flight on a large private property in Fox Chapel. Four other young owls that were born last fall will also be released from the site.

The open-air cage is partitioned so that when it’s time to let the youngsters go, their breeding pair can still be confined. Boxes for nesting and roosting look the same as those being distributed in the wild to help the owls recognize them as a safe haven.

Since their births, the young owls have been fed frozen mice that have been thawed. But in the days before their release, they must hone their flying, swooping and hunting skills to catch live mice that will be placed in their cage.

Barn owls have a facial disc that is concave and their ears are assymetrical, making their hearing acute enough to pick up mice pitter-pattering across the ground, Browning said.

When the young owls are better hunters, the cage will be left open so they can leave as they wish.

“If they want to fly out and want to come back, they can do that for a week or so,” Browning said. “At some point, I’m going to decide none are coming back or it’s time to close it up and let them go.”

Photo by Bill Wade, Post-Gazette

Mark Browning, animal trainer and head of the barn owl release project at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Welcome to our New Site

barn-owl-1This site is designed to help you understand barn owl biology, how to attract barn owls, how best to apply integrated pest management methods for natural rodent control, and give you information on the biology of common pest species, including pocket gophers, voles, mice, and rats. Our Barn Owl Status page includes a state by state analysis of barn owl populations. Also, look for links to articles on using barn owls for rodent control in vineyards, sugar cane, orchards, crop farms, and dairy farms.

In the orchards and vineyards of California, dairy and crop farms of the Midwest, sugar cane fields of Australia, oil palm plantations of South East Asia, and the communal farms of Israel, the barn owl has proved to be a valuable asset in integrated pest management programs, sustainable agriculture, and organic farming. Join those who are using barn owls for natural rodent control and lower crop losses while reducing the amount of poisons entering the ecosystem. At the same time, help aid the conservation of this beautiful bird.