Three years ago, I put a couple of owl boxes up on the Chayne. One was blown away during a storm last winter, and the other has gradually ticked over without too much activity ever since. Assuming that it was in a bad spot, I took a ladder up to inspect it yesterday, finding it within seconds of falling down of its own accord. The nylon straps had totally rotted through, so I felt justified in taking it down and moving it up the hill to the shelter of a sitka windbreak where barn owls often lie up during the day.
It was very satisfying to find pellets in the box, and although these were probably just from itinerant tawny owls, it was evidence of the fact that the design was not altogether flawed. As the picture shows, the box is just an old mango chutney barrel which had been cast aside from Solway Feeders, and the addition of an entry hole, a perch and a bit of a canopy roof were finishing touches. The base is drilled to let any leaks out, and there is a two inch layer of soil in the bottom so that the birds don’t have to sit on sweaty plastic.
I plan to experiment with a few different styles of box over the next few months. The materials are cheap and the effort required to set them up is minimal when put against the excitement and satisfaction of providing a home for a barn owl. There are other designs of box which suit long eared owls, kestrels and forest merlins, and these must all be tried and tested in due course.