Habitat and Nest Sites  
Barn Owl Boxes - Location, Location, Location!
Prey-rich habitat is the key to a good neighbourhood.

Barn Owls face a housing crisis. Many traditional nesting sites have gone, as hollow trees are lost, barns get renovated, and haystacks disappear. However there is hope, and you can help.

These beautiful birds will help to control small mammal pests. There are a variety of locations that can be work well. Here at the BOCN headquarters at Sheepdrove Organic Farm, we have put boxes up inside barns and upon the outside of farm buildings, set them onto trees, and on poles in new woodland plantations.

As with any home, location is key. We cannot emphasise too strongly - HABITAT is the vital factor in nestbox success. Rough grass supports their favourite prey, the Short-tailed Vole, which grazes green vegetation and nests in the thick tussocks that develop in seldom-mown grass. (Mowing every few years at 6 inches height controls weeds and helps revive the structure that voles love!)

Habitat links, e.g. hedges or 2-metre rough grass field margins, are good places to site Barn Owl boxes about 3 metres (10 feet) up in a tree. (Note: This is a good height for many other bird boxes too, like Little Owl or Kestrel boxes, and for Tawny Owl in woodland.)

Learn more
Contact us here at BOCN for advice on Barn Owls, and take a look at our interactive conservation animation and our other factfiles here on our website.

"Boxes, Baskets and Platforms" - is a great 40 page guide showing how to succeed in making and installing artificial nest sites for all the birds of prey you could ever want to offer a home! Simply contact us to buy the leading guide to artificial nest sites for birds of prey, at only £5.75 including postage.

Can I get funding?
Ask your local council if they have a fund for wildlife projects, and join forces with neighbouring landowners to get the habitat right.

Farmers can use Defra’s grants to contribute to the cost of hedge planting, sowing wildlife strips, and maintaining rough grass field margins. Stewardship can help with special projects like nestboxes for Barn Owls and should be part of every farm plan.

The Forestry Commission may also agree to pay money towards nest boxes as part of projects to create or enhance woodland habitats.

These habitat measures benefit not only Barn Owls, but a whole range of other wildlife too – so your success in helping Barn Owls is a real winner for the countryside. Why not give it a go?

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