Where’s the best place for your Barn Owl nestbox?

Find out if your area is suitable for Barn Owls.
What’s needed in a Barn Owl Home range?

Best option – Barn Owl nestbox inside a building

Barn Owl nestbox Best Place Indoor If there’s a large building that a Barn Owl can enter at 3+ metres above the ground then this is almost certainly the best place to put a new Barn Owl nestbox. An owl box in a building:

  • Is easier to erect.
  • Costs less, or is quicker and cheaper to make.
  • Lasts much longer.
  • Affords extra shelter (that’ll be great for the owls).

If you have a building with no high-up entrance hole, can a small owl-hole be made? Mounting an owl box on the outside of a building has many disadvantages and is not recommended unless there is no alternative. Buildings that are in human or agricultural use can be very suitable; Barn Owls can get used to almost any kind of activity as long as they can stay out of sight.

Providing a home for Barn Owls – Where to put a nestbox for wild owls.

All about Barn Owl nestboxes for buildings.

2nd best option – Barn Owl nestbox in a tree

Best Place for Tree Barn Owl nestboxTree nestboxes are an option if no building is available, but the drawbacks are:

  • More expensive to obtain or make than indoor boxes.
  • More difficult to erect than indoor boxes.
  • Don’t last as long due to partial exposure to the elements.
  • Don’t provide as much shelter.

Also there’s a greater chance of occupation by some other species. However, provided that you have a suitable tree in a suitable position, they are a much more practical option than a polebox.
Tell me about Barn Owl nestboxes for trees. Watch the video’s on How to build a Barn Owl nestbox for a treeHow to erect a Barn Owl nestbox on a tree and How to choose the best tree.

3rd best option – Barn Owl nestbox on a pole

Best Place Pole Barn Owl nestboxPole nestboxes for Barn Owls are the least preferred option because they are:

  • The most expensive by far.
  • The hardest to erect.
  • Not going to last long, compared with a nestbox in a building.
  • Completely exposed to the weather.

The only major advantage of an outdoor polebox is that it can be provided almost anywhere. You are not dependent on there being a suitable building or tree on-site. The pole needs to be very substantial and generally has to be erected by machine – the costs are considerable.
Tell me about pole mounted nestboxes for Barn Owls.

Even better – Permanent Options

The presence of Barn Owls will not usually result in the refusal of a planning application for a barn conversion. We support the renovation and conversion of old buildings as long as permanent provision for Barn Owls is incorporated into the design. After all, an unused derelict building, however picturesque, will only deteriorate and eventually become unsuitable for Barn Owls to live in.

Hot Tips!

  • Choose a well-designed owl house! The old adage “you get what you pay for” does not apply to Barn Owl nestboxes. There are some very badly designed owl boxes on the market! Watch the video on best nestbox design.
    Order a Barn Owl Trust nestbox.
  • Don’t use a box at all! Why not create a home for owls in your loft? Barn conversions or farm houses are not the only types of building that can have an owl nesting space built-in.
    How to create a nesting space for Barn Owls within a building project.
  • Barn Owls can’t eat boxes! Managing land for Barn Owls to boost their food supply is even more important than erecting nestboxes. Watch the video on land management.
  • Find out what’s needed in a Barn Owl Home range? – does your location have what it takes? Once a Barn Owl has established a home range it will almost certainly remain there for the rest of its life – and it may even be a Barn Owl site for generations to come!
  • Find out if your landscape is suitable. Barn Owls in the UK generally avoid urban and suburban areas, dense forest and high mountains.
  • 2 boxes are even better! There’s certainly a value in having two boxes available within a few hundred yards of each other at nest sites – both boxes may well be used by individuals from a pair, rather than a second pair of birds:
    • Some pairs simply like to roost alone at certain times of the year.
    • During the breeding cycle, and after the female has finished laying and is busy incubating, the male may roost away from the nest site during the day.
    • At about 3-4 weeks of age the young are able to thermo-regulate, which means the female doesn’t have to physically brood them (keep them warm). Often neither parent is in the nesting box when young are at this stage. However the female won’t want to go far.
    • About 10% of pairs double brood in any one year. If a second clutch of eggs is laid, this is often away from the first nest site.
  • If you want to put a camera in the box it’s a good idea to plan this before you buy or build your owl home, otherwise the camera-view may not be great. Additionally, nesting birds and their dependent young must not be disturbed. Barn Owls and the law.

Find out more about Barn Owl nest boxes in the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook.