Building Backyard Habitat for Barn Owls: Lessons from a Lifelong Naturalist


Red And Gray Barn Owl

There it was. A barn owl nest box hanging in a low branch of a spreading sycamore tree. I was bidding to trim the tree at the time and I mentioned to my prospective client that it was too low — owls would not nest there because they had no privacy. She wanted to know how I knew, and I explained that I had been a falconer all my life, and that I had climbed and studied all species of raptor nests.

She told me her late husband had hung it, but that was as high as he could on a ladder. If she got owls, maybe she could watch the babies while doing the dishes. I offered that if she awarded me the tree job, I would move the nest box higher up gratis and she immediately accepted.

Three days later on a sunny Saturday morning, I got a phone call. My client was excited, and bubbling over that she was hosting her bridge club and someone noticed a pair of owls up in the newly placed nesting box, staring down at the house.

I was hooked.

All nine of her friends wanted an owl box as well, and it dawned on me it could be a business. That was over 30,000 barn owl nesting boxes and 27 years ago.

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