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Over the years here we have seen and heard the odd Barn Owl, so after some reading up on Birdwatch Ireland we found that the  Barn Owl is in massive decline due to the change in Farming practices, Rodent control and feed storage etc. As a result we have decided to build a Barn Owl Box. We got the plans and much usefull information on the positioning of the nest box from the Barn Owl Trust website.

First thing is to get the materials together.

One sheet 8x4  x 10mm plywood

Some treated 2x1 laths for reinforcing the corners.

Weatherproof screws and staples.

Waterproof sealant

Torch-on felt.

Some expandable metal for attaching the box to the tree. We got a 6'  by 2'6  galvanised sheet.

 

We marked out all the various pieces on the plywood  .bIMG 20160105 154959 Then took a little time with this,  as it takes almost the entire sheet to make the box  .bIMG 20160108 150117

 

Once all the pieces were cut out it was exciting watching it all piece together.

Weatherproof screws were used to attach the lats to reinforce all the corners. Then a good quality waterproof sealant was applied to all the joints. We also sealed the inspection hatch for added weather protection. This will be opened every 2/3 years to clean out debris if we are lucky enough to get inhabitants.

The top front of the box was set back also for increased weather protection. The landing tray with a raised edge was fitted. This ledge allows young climbing jumping Owlets to enter and exit the box more safely. Drainage holes were added. Ladder rests were fitted for safety when inspecting and cleaning out the box, which should only take place between November and January so as not to disturb the nesting Owl.

 

 

 

bIMG 20160115 185327

 

Finally, as we had a roll of torch on felt we applied it.

We feel confident that this box will remain weatherproof for a long time bIMG 20160120 122757and it will be a lucky Owl who discovers it.

The main cause of death in winter mortality is starvation. Small mammals become less active in lower temperatures eating stored food. In the past farm buildings were a great source of food for the Owl in winter. New farming practices have lessened the number of mammals coming indoors as containers for food storage have been made less accessible, and Rodanicides are used in abundance.

Increased rainfall makes hunting a problem also. Owl feathers are adapted for silent flight. They are very soft and not water resistant so they avoid hunting in the rain. They depend too on sound when hunting and are unable to hear small mammals movements in the rain.

The Owl will perch on fence posts, and hunt from there to conserve energy and heat loss. Hunting from flight causes great heat loss.

 

 

 

FindingbIMG 20160120 125448 the correct spot to locate the box is the most important consideration.

 

We would like to locate it near to the house so that we can observe the movements of impending visitorsbIMG 20160120 132624. We know that the Owl is not bothered by the presence of humans.

The correct flight path is important. Open ground with the least amount of trees in the vacinity the better as it's knowledge of it's Home Range is crucial. Hunting in the dark means that they need to remember all obstacles. 

Once we were happy with the location we enlisted the help of a friend for the installation. This is an awkward big and heavy box. An extra pair of hands was necessary as the positioning of the box out of the prevailng winds is important.

A rope was used to hoist it, the expandable metal sheet was attached like a sling around the branch and firmly fastened to both the tree and the box.

Finally some tanalised laths were used as supports and were screwed securely.

With binoculars at the ready

NOW WE WAIT !!!!!!!

 

bookowl AND WAIT.....PATIENTLY.. 

 

 

 

 

 

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