It is wise to house owls (when you have a couple of acres)

Building an owl house can be fun and rewarding, educational and sentimental, and if you are lucky enough to have a pair of owls come live in your owl house, it can be an affordable means of rodent control. Your neighbors just may thank you, too, should the pair have a family, for (one would hope) no human’s home on an acre or less likely has enough rodents for a family of owls. Two or three homes, maybe.

According to the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (SCVAS), which is where we obtained our owl house plans, a pair of owls with five owlets will need 25 mice a night to survive, one statistic says. This same statistic states that barn owls may hunt more than a mile for food. It is also noted that an abundance of conflicting information exists, partly because owls are nocturnal and not easily studied. Consequently, much of the information found on the internet becomes anecdotal.

We have chosen to use for our reference the revised version of the article, “Build a Barn Owl Box, modeled after an original design by Steve Simmons,” by Charles G. Wade, Lee Pauser, and David Altknecht, originally published August 2, 2010 and revised February 27, 2012. This 31-page publication is full of great information and can be found on the SCVAS website. Here is a link – http://www.scvas.org/pdf/cbrp/BuildingBarnOwlBoxes.pdf

Because this information is promoted by the SCVAS, we believe this publication to be a reliable source. In addition, the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA has adopted this barn owl box design to use in their research. And most importantly, because Mr. Steve Simmons, a shop teacher who designed the box, has been tracking and monitoring owls for years. As of 2012, he had banded over 14,000 barn owls.

Most impressive, however, is how he organized the student production of 10,000 barn owl boxes, which were sold to local ranchers for pest control. Mammal skulls were collected from one barn owl box after nesting season and it was determined that a clutch of six owlets consumed on average nearly 70 pounds of rodents in just a few months. The farmers were thrilled and so were the students, as the sales provided $168,000 in scholarship money.

Stay tuned for more to come on why it is wise to house owls!

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