How and Why To Attract Owls To Your Garden

Barn owl in flight

Owls are a particularly useful bird to have in your garden. Not only is hearing their nightly noises a pleasant thing, they are also really useful for keeping down the numbers of rodent pests. So attracting owls can be of great benefit to organic gardeners, especially those who have problems with rats, mice or voles eating their seeds and seedlings before they get a chance to grow. Unfortunately, if you live in the middle of a town or city and have many close neighbours, an owl is far more unlikely to nest near your home. If, however, you live in a place backing on to woodland or fields, or with a little more space between homes and plenty of green leafy spaces, or are lucky enough to live in a rural location, you may have a lot more luck.

Tawny owl

There are many different species of owl, though the barn owl and the tawny owl are the most common types. To attract owls, you will have to provide nesting boxes for them where hollow tree branches or other natural nest sites are not available. Nest boxes should be specifically designed with owls in mind and you should bear in mind that barn owls and tawny owls will have different requirements. All owls will appreciate space, so the more space you can give them, the more likely they are to take up residence.

Tawny owl box

Tawny owl boxes are sometimes square, sometimes tube-shaped, to mimic their natural nest sites in hollow tree branches. Barn owls boxes are much larger, and square or triangular, with a ledge on the exterior that young owls can stand on. If designing your own, think about the logistics of cleaning it out once the young have fledged. A tawny owl box should be positioned on a tree at a 45 degree angle. A barn owl box should ideally be located about 3-5 metres from the ground on a tree that stands apart and yet is ideally close to some woodland. Make sure that the entrance to the box is not facing into the wind. As the name suggests, if you provide a way in and out, barn owls may also take up residence in the rafter space of a barn, outbuilding or garage.

Hunting barn owl

There are other things that you can do to create a good environment for owls. It should really go without saying that you should not poison rodents. You should also make sure that there are good survey posts for owls to sit on at a vantage point, perhaps near the edge of your property. Sturdy fence posts are ideal. It is also important to have as little light outside at night as possible. Floodlit areas and areas with security lighting will be harder environments for owls to hunt.

Do not worry about rodent pests – in rural and semi-rural gardens owls could provide the perfect solution to the problems and can help keep your organic garden in balance.