Site and Build a Barn Owl Nest Box


Natural predators come in all sizes, shapes and classes. There are generalists that eat whatever they can get a hold of to specialists that just hunt and consume certain species in a particular way. Lions and cheetahs are good examples. Here in North America, owls own the night skies. Great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) eat a list of mammals, birds, and reptiles that is reminiscent of what the cartoon Tasmanian devil might eat (using about the same table manners).

Great horned owls have been known to eat young raccoons, red-tailed hawks and even great blue herons. They will consume pounds of flesh and not eat for nights due to a slow metabolism. This species is our only representative of the booted eagle owl clan, a worldwide distributed genus of owl that contains among its ranks the world’s largest species of owls. These birds approach 20 pounds and have the physique of a trash can.

Barn Owls for Rodent Control

Barn owls (Tyto alba) are quite different from the eagle owls, focusing on rodents almost exclusively and especially rats, mice and gophers. They also eat moles, voles, shrews and anything brown and fuzzy that runs around on the ground at night. They wash this all down with the occasional cricket and wayward beetle.

Barn owls are "tachy metobolic" and eat roughly half their own weight each night in crop-eating rodents. One biologist's study showed that one pair of nesting California barn owls can consume as many as 2,000 rodents per year when feeding their young. I reckon that number to being about a heaping long-bed pickup load's worth. Their young eat so many rodents in such a short time that they weigh as much as their parents in about 50 nights and fledge in about 65 to 70 nights.

All extant raptors have the steepest growth curves of any known vertebrate. Their cousins the tyrannosaurs had the steepest growth curves ever calculated: from a chicken-sized hatchling to a 40-foot  long, nine-ton giant in 5-7 years. Some paleontologists believe that this gargantuan appetite precluded a parental situation, theorizing that they had to be pack animals!

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