Sunday, August 4, 2013

Barn Owls

Knock, knock.
Who is there?
Owlsgo who?

Yup.  That's right.

I lives smack-dab in the center of some prime raptor forage area.

I watched, year after year, as the large, hip-roofed barns in the neighborhood got flattened by high winds.  That includes our own barn that was creamed on October 26, 2001.  I remember the day because it was the anniversary of the day I proposed to the future Mrs ERJ.  I had a dandy dinner planned.  We ended up eating it in the basement as a tornado waltzed through our back yard.

One of the quirks of Barn Owl nesting boxes is that they are almost the optimal size for feral bees to hive up in. Reports vary, but anywhere from 25% to 80% of Barn Owl boxes will host feral bees in a give season. Bees or Barn Owls, I like them both.

Planning ahead.  Cleats on side to slide top-bars into.

This is the front.  It will be hinged for easy access.  The hole is 3.5" by 5".

Two by fours scabbed on outside to screw the hinges into and to not obstruct installation of top bars and to facilitate the easy harvest of top bars once they are combed up.
The color was a Menard's Exterior Paint mis-tint.

I will never use OSB for this application again.  It is like working with warm Velveeta.

The second generation will be modeled after this, Link.  This guy invested a lot of sweat into sorting out what worked and what did not work.

"An important attribute about this box is that the design has been tested in use by thousands of owls, an extremely unique situation.This provides comfort that the solutions presented here are not anecdotal  but are applicable to a high percentage of Barn Owls. were grateful for the owl boxes because in the few months between egg hatching and fledging,a clutch of six owletsconsumes on average nearly 70 pounds of rodents.
His personal monitoring of Barn Owl boxes (currently 200 annually at 8 sites) has led to an enormous amount of data on year round behavior, reproductive habits, diet, predators, habitat requirements, and nest box preferences. Simmons calculates he has climbed over 400 miles on his ladders.
For years Simmons has monitored hundreds of these Barn Owl boxes and banded over 14,000 owls to date. Working with students from the University of California at Davis, Washington State University, California State University at Chico, and the California Polytechnic University, he has noted Barn Owl courtship behavior, deciphered their diet, observed the competition between owls and other avian species, and experimented with variations in siting, mounting and designs of the box."

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