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Barn Owl Box Making: How to make a home for our feathery friends

By: Board Member Ron Forster

Barn owls are in need of housing, due to not as many dead/hollow trees and old barns left standing these days.  Barn owls do a wonderful job of controlling the population of gophers, rats, and other rodents. Let’s help give these vital birds a home in their habitat!

There are many variations but here are a few general tips for the San Diego region:

  1. The entrance hole should be no larger than 6″ in diameter to prevent predators (like Great Horned Owls) from raiding the nest.  The hole can be square, round, or oval. It’s good to have the hole at least an inch off the floor of the box so that the babies don’t accidently fall out.


  1. Barn owls choose their nesting site in November/December so it is good to have the box in the field by then.


  1. The box can be hung from a sturdy branch or attached to a post.  It should be at least 12′ off the ground (higher is better) and ideally in the shade of a tree or building roof.


  1. If the box is to be placed in a sunny location it is important to add extra ventilation holes (3/4 – 1″ diam) along the top of the walls. You may also want to add an extra roof board on 1″ spacers on top of the roof to keep it cooler in the hot sun of our region.


If you’d like, you could build the basic boxes with ventilation holes and any extra roof or hanging considerations can be taken care of at the time of installation.

You may want to explore the different designs that are on the web and come up with your own design.  As long as the entrance hole is the right sized and it has the basic dimensions there’s a lot of room for creativity.

Thank you for helping our local wildlife :).