How to Build an Owl House

How to Build an Owl House

Owls are great neighbors to have, not just because of their beautiful hooting sounds throughout the night but also due to their skills in hunting the neighborhood rodents. Owls, snakes, and small mammals together help keep the rodent population down, one of many ways to reduce home infestations. Owls also leave us gifts in the form of owl pellets, which can frequently be found around their homes. To build an owl house of your own, you will need a cozy, water-tight container (or the parts to build one) and a place up high for owls to make themselves at home.

Owls don’t build their own nests like the majority of flighted birds. Instead, they generally either find an abandoned nest or inherit a nest from their parents. Once they have a nest to call home, owls generally return to the same nest year after year, then pass it down to one of their owlets. Building a new owl house increases the amount of places owls and other woodland animals can call home, providing shelter from the weather and hiding places from predators. 

To help determine which owls are living near your house, read 5 Owls in Your Backyard.

When to Build an Owl House

Springtime is the perfect time of year to attract nesting owls to your backyard. Owls start settling down in their permanent nests during March and April, so it’s best to finish setting up your owl house beforehand. 

Where to Set Up an Owl House

Like most winged animals, owls prefer their homes to be up high, out of reach of their land-bound neighbors. Most will choose a hollow in a tree or alcove in a building’s rafters rather than a hole in the ground. As you look over your backyard, think like an owl and imagine where they might like to call home.

Owls like their privacy. When hunting for the perfect spot for your owl house, look for parts of your yard that are tucked out of the way, sheltered from noise, with lots of nearby places to fly to. Keep in mind that a happy nest will also be home to owl droppings and pellets, so it’s best not to build an owl box over a parked car or garden bed.

No matter what you do to attract owls to your new nest, you may end up with starlings for neighbors instead. You can either welcome your new starling neighbors or clear out their nesting material and try again. 

Owl House Dimensions and Specifications

Owls prefer untreated wood. Treated wood often has water-proofing properties, but it also comes with an unfamiliar scent. When picking a home to lay their eggs, owls prefer places that look and smell natural. 

Screech Owl in owl house

  • Entrance: 3" to 5" wide, at top of box,near safe place to land
  • Floor: at least 18" deep and 8" wide
  • Walls: 9" tall with locked side door for cleaning
  • Roof: sloped and covered with heavy-duty roofing felt
  • Glue: waterproof sealant
  • Floor: solid with 20mm drainage holes

Note: If this project has turned out to be more work than you were expecting, it is 100% okay to buy a premade owl box. We love the selection at Wild Bird Store Online.

Fill your nest with wood shavings and dried pine needles to create a cushion for the owlets and absorb the moisture from the air. Owls don’t scavenge for nesting material, so it’s up to you to build a comfy space for young owlets. 

To get the full experience of having owls as neighbors, set up a camera in or near your owl house. Bird box cameras can be found for as little as $100, with motion sensors to let you know when the owls are home.

Now you have everything you need to get started building your owl house. Please browse our educational shop to get you and your family excited for your new owl neighbors.

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