Owl Box Location

It would be fitting if our data showed a preference by owls for indigenous trees in which to breed. It doesn’t. Pine trees, gum trees, plain trees, oak trees, syringa trees etc. are all suitable for owl box installation. As are many indigenous trees. We have occupied owl boxes in trees, on gum poles and on buildings.

The key to location is more about finding a place that is relatively undisturbed instead of a specific tree or site. Undisturbed is not necessarily a remote tree at the bottom of the garden - owls in urban areas are comfortable with cars, driveways, kids, dogs and cats. Undisturbed really covers direct disturbance. A place where people cannot easily access the box and remove chicks or bang against the box which would cause the owls to leave the box during the day. Disturbing an owl in a breeding box during the day is problematic. The female will often not return to the box until nightfall and consequently, the chicks are left unprotected from crows, cats and other potential predators of small chicks and eggs. In addition, the owlets and eggs, without the female to shield them can be exposed to long periods of sunlight or high winds or afternoon showers. If we have to disturb an owl, for ringing purposes, for instance, it is always undertaken at dusk as this allows the female to return to the box quickly once the ringing has been completed.

A quick note on crows - we often hear from concerned clients that they have been told that their EcoSolutions owl box will not attract owls because there is no landing perch. When this programme was initiated (2000 -2001) we included a landing perch on all of our owl boxes. In the first year that we enjoyed occupancy, we lost 3 owl clutches to crows that used the landing perch to scold and frustrate the incubating female owl to the point that she abandoned the box and the chicks and eggs were subsequently predated upon. The 150 occupied owl boxes displayed in our success stories on our website do not have landing perches and produce owlets each year.   

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