- Mounts on tree
- 4 x 4 x 9 inner dimensions
- Weight 1.5 pounds
- 1 5/8” entrance hole
- Weatherproof vent wings
- Rain guard
- Inner ladder
- Access panel for inspection and cleaning
- Good for numerous species of songbird
The Bluebird House Pole
In an effort to encourage the establishment of barn owls and bluebirds, the Barn Owl Box Company makes available pole systems of galvanized iron pipe at close to wholesale prices. These pole systems are designed to take out the expense, work, and time involved in digging holes, pouring concrete, etc.
The Bluebird House Pole System
Creating bluebird trails fast is made easy with this unique pole system combined with the innovative, molded-in pipe channel in the rear of our Bluebird House. The pole system consists of two 3′ long galvanized pipes 1/2″ in diameter, and a 1/2″ coupler. The lower pipe is driven 2′ into the ground; the second pipe is attached using the coupler. Then the bluebird house rear channel slides onto the pole and a tube strap (supplied) tightens the nest box to the pole. The Bluebird House will stand 4′ off the ground.
Note: when driving base pipe into ground, use a pipe driver or sledge hammer with a piece 2 x 4 over the pipe end to protect it.
The Barn Owl/Rodent Project
Mark Browning, the designer of our nest boxes, has been conducting barn owl research for the past ten years. He conducted the first satellite telemetry project that tracked the seasonal movements of young barn owls. The data revealed that young barn owls disperse dramatically in the fall. Several of the birds, released in Pennsylvania, flew as far as the deep south, one going as far as New Orleans for the winter.
In 2011, Browning began a new research project, the Barn Owl/Rodent Project, designed to measure the effect of a large, dense population of barn owls on a resident rodent population. On a 100-acre vineyard situated 30 miles south of Sacramento, California, Browning and a team of students from U.C. Davis, Sacramento State College, and Cosumnes River College erected 25 nest boxes in an effort to see just how dense of a population of barn owls could be attracted to a relatively small area. At the same time, the team began to measure rodent activity on the study area. (The vineyard was chosen because of its heavy pocket gopher and vole infestation.) This was the first study ever conducted designed to measure rodent numbers in relation to numbers of barn owls. (Studies in Malaysia had measured crop damage by rodents in the presence of high numbers of rodents.)
Installation of Nest Boxes
In 2011, 20 nest boxes (five more added later) were erected on the perimeter of the vineyard in February; by late March, eleven pairs of barn owls occupied nest boxes and had laid eggs. These 11 pairs successfully fledge 44 young, creating a population of 66 owls feeding off the vineyard by early summer. 2012 showed a dramatic increase in owl occupation, with 18 breeding pairs that fledged 66 young for a total of 102 owls harvesting rodent pests in the area, a prodigious number of owls living off a scant 100 acres and the highest number of barn owls ever reported in a concentrated area.
While increasing the barn owl population, the research team also surveyed activity of the most prevalent rodent, the pocket gopher. Their mounds were ubiquitous between the rows of vines. These surveys indicated a negative correlation between barn owl numbers and rodent numbers, with both populations experiencing seasonal curves. Importantly, the numbers of pocket gophers have declined steadily, never reaching the high densities that were present prior to establishing the owls.
Barn Owl Diet on the Vineyard
Pellet analysis during this period has shown that the barn owl diet on the study area is comprised mainly of pocket gophers (83%), with voles coming in at around 16%. We have also found deer mouse, and Norwegian and roof rat remains in the pellets. Voles are often cited as a regulatory factor in barn owl populations around the world. But this study and others point to the fact that barn owls are truly adaptable and when a certain prey species is prevalent, barn owls will adjust to hunting that species. This is often the case in agricultural settings where rodents that would otherwise be scarcer now dominate the environment. Such is the case in sugar cane where cotton rats are the most harvested rodent, and in rice farms where the rice rat is the favorite prey. The interesting thing is that the vole truly is a perfect size for the barn owl (averaging two ounces in weight)–easily captured and, most importantly, easily swallowed whole. But the barn owls adapt, pulling apart adult pocket gophers (that may weigh greater than eight ounces–four times the size of a vole) if they cannot swallow them.
Barn Owl Nest Box Orientation Preferences
Analysis of nest box direction in relation to occupation has shown a preference for selecting nest boxes facing easterly directions and a relatively low selection of southwest facing directions. This preference of easterly facing entrance holes has been demonstrated in other bird research to be a thermoregulatory choice–in the cool mornings, the rising sun warms the nest box; in the hot afternoons, the entrance hole is shaded. This was true in our study. However, keep in mind that barn owls do not operate by hardfast rules and they will indeed choose all of the other directions if that is what is available.
Our Nest Box Cams
In 2013, the Lodi Winegrape Commission awarded a grant to the Barn Owl/Rodent Project to fund the purchase of two solar-powered, motion-sensor, infra-red cameras for the purpose of recording the numbers of prey being brought in through the eight-week fledging period of the fledgling owls in two active nests. It was theorized that using pellet analysis in order to determine actual numbers of prey being harvested may lead to inaccuracies. Video was considered to be highly accurate and capable of providing a much-desired figure: how many rodents are harvested, on average, for each chick through the nesting period up to fledging. This figure can be very useful to farmers in determining how many nest boxes to install on a given amount of acreage, particularly if coupled with a general idea of the degree of rodent infestation.
Practical Application of the Study
The purpose of the study was to provide practical information to farmers on utilizing barn owls in integrated pest management programs. Goals of the project included determination of optimum numbers of nest boxes required for significant rodent control, optimum number of nest boxes in relation to acreage, preferred nest box orientation preferred by the barn owl, expectation of seasonal fluctuations in rodent populations while using barn owls, and possible integration of other pest control methods for optimum results.
Results of the Barn Owl/Rodent Project
The data gleaned from this three year study has yielded a great deal of information of practical use to vintners and farmers.
- Very high densities of barn owls can be established within a season or two
- Barn owl pairs can be established at a density as high as one per 5.5 acres
- Barn owls favor nest boxes that face in easterly directions (NE, E, and SE)
- Dense populations of barn owls result in a significant decline in targeted prey species
- Barn owl and rodent populations may fluctuate from year to year due to a variety of factors
- High densities of barn owls in one or more years may result in fewer barn owls due to a decrease in the amount of prey present
- Harvesting rodents through establishing barn owl nest box programs is very cost effective since, once established, barn owl populations are self-sustaining, barn owls create relentless pressure on the rodent population, and maintenance of nest boxes is minimal.
This page will continue to be updated as we are able to incorporate more of our findings.
The Wren/Songbird House
With its 1.25” entrance hole and 4.5” – square floor plan, provides the optimum nesting cavity for not only wrens, but a great variety of birds including the various species of chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice found throughout North America. This nest box incorporates the same successful design elements as our other plastic, molded nest boxes made for such birds as the barn owl, bluebird, kestrel, and screech owl. The Wren/Songbird House features an interior mesh ladder for easy exit, an easily accessed clean out door, a rain guard and weather-proof vents to keep the box snug and dry, and comes with all the hardware necessary for mounting to a tree or post. Made of rugged, molded plastic, the wren box will far outlast wooden boxes. Weighing less than a pound, the nest box is extremely easy to mount. It comes with a unique installation system and all of the hardware necessary for mounting to a tree, post, or outbuilding.
The birds that can use this nest box for raising young are many. No matter where you live in North America, a number of these species will inhabit your area, whether you live in the country, a suburb, or even a city–as long as you have a number of shrubs and trees on your property.
Wrens: Don’t let the cryptic plumage of these small birds fool you. With their bold personalities, lightning speed, and energetic song, these birds have to be among the most enjoyable birds in North America. Nine species exist in the United States: House Wren, Carolina Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Canyon Wren, Marsh Wren, Sedge Wren, Winter Wren, Cactus Wren, and Rock Wren. All of these species will readily accept nest boxes to raise their young.
Chickadees: From the lowland swamps of the southeast and the high mountains of the Rockies to the suburbs of cities, chickadees resides in good numbers. These high social, inquisitive, and handsome birds are one of the most frequently seen birds around human habitations, especially in winter when many other, larger birds head south. The five species of chickadee in North America are the Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Gray-headed Chickadee and Mountain Chickadee. Each one of these will readily accept a nest box. Check your local bird guide to determine which species is present in your area.
Nuthatches: These handsome birds have the habit of walking down tree trunks while foraging for insects and insect eggs and larvae. The four species in North America are the White Breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. They often flock with Chickadees and Titmice at birdfeeders.
Titmice: No other bird in North America seems to possess more variations of calls than these birds. Their flutelike calls are a constant presence in yards and gardens. The five species in our range are the Tufted Titmouse, Bridled Titmouse, Oak Titmouse, Juniper Titmouse, and Black-crested Titmouse.
Erecting nest boxes suitable for these species is a great way of encouraging their presence in your yard and enhancing their populations for conservation purposes. For more information on how best to attract birds and other wildlife, visit our Attracting Backyard Birds page.
Guide for Attracting Wrens, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Titmice
- Erect nest boxes at varying heights of between five and eight feet off the ground
- Provide seed in bird feeders
- Offer water from drip feeders or bird baths
- Plant shrubs, especially ones that produce berries
- No need to provide nesting material; all of these species provide their own
The Screech Owl Nest Box
With its 3″ diameter entrance hole, interior ladder, access panel, rainproof vent wings, excellent ventilation, and robust rain guard, the molded plastic Screech Owl Nest Box is the longest-lasting, most innovative nest box for screech owls on the market. A steel mounting bracket system makes it easier than ever to install to a tree. It comes with all the necessary hardware. Weighing only 5.5 pounds, the nest box is easy to carry up a ladder and position for installation.
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.
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.
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 is easy, either by calling them down with a taped screech owl call, or by watching their nest box entrance at dusk where screech owls tend to sit for half an hour or more before emerging to hunt.
Related Screech Owl Posts
About the 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.
About Mark Browning
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 South Carolina and returned to a barn only forty miles from its original release point near Pittsburgh.Data from such studies is helping to formulate conservation efforts for this bird which has declined in many northern states.
Early after release, all of our barn owls found their way to freshly mown hay fields.
One of the conclusions taken from the study was that the barn owl is not a good candidate for breed and release programs designed to bring back populations of barn owls—particularly in the north-central states where 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.
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.
This tendency to disperse widely in random directions shows something very elemental to the dynamics of barn owl populations. It explains, in part, why barn owls are the most widespread land bird in the world and how they quickly colonize newly opened areas. It also confirms that low populations will naturally repopulate good habitat if there are adequate nesting sites. This tips the balance in favor of habitat preservation and enhancement over breed and release schemes.
CURRENT RESEARCH: THE BARN OWL/RODENT PROJECT IN CALIFORNIA
In 2011, Browning began a new research project, the Barn Owl/Rodent Project, designed to measure the effect of a large, dense population of barn owls on a resident rodent population. On a 100-acre vineyard situated 30 miles south of Sacramento, California, Browning and a team of students from U.C. Davis, Sacramento State College, and Cosumnes River College erected 25 nest boxes in an effort to see just how dense of a population of barn owls could be attracted to a relatively small area. At the same time, the team began to measure rodent activity on the study area. (The vineyard was chosen because of its heavy pocket gopher and vole infestation.) This was the first study ever conducted designed to measure rodent numbers in relation to heavy predation by barn owls.
The results have been nothing less that astounding. The team efforts resulted in 10 breeding pairs occupying the vineyard in 2011. These 10 pairs successfully fledge 44 young, creating a population of 66 owls feeding off the vineyard. 2012 showed a dramatic increase in owl occupation, with 18 breeding pairs that fledged 66 young for a total of 102 owls harvesting rodent pests in the area, a prodigious number of owls living off a scant 100 acres.
For more information about this project, including great photos of owls, chicks, and even video from our nest box cams, go to our Barn Owl/Rodent Study page.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.