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Habitats for Barn Owls

Raptor Works is a program based at Merced High School in California, which takes used crates that once harbored items like fruit or nuts and turns them into wooden homes for Barn Owls.

The program was developed by Steve Simmons, a retired shop teacher and volunteer biologist. In this program, students of Merced High School take crates and other packages destined for the landfill, and make homes for Barn Owls. (Though they have also put their skills to use making habitats for other birds, including Bluebirds, Wood Ducks, Screech Owls, and American Kestrel.)

Once the materials are up-cycled into homes, students sell them, using the proceeds to fund Barn Owl research and student scholarships.

Most boxes can comfortably accommodate mate owls and 5 to 7 owlets. Once installed, boxes need little maintenance, which consists of an annual cleaning. But be sure to wear a duck mask during this yearly task.

In addition to creating a reliable shelter for the Barn Owls, having the Barn Owls around helps to keep natural order in place, ridding the need for landowners to trap or use toxic chemicals as a means of pest repellent. This program is especially popular among farmers, whose crops are naturally less frequented by “pests” due to the fatal presence of the owls.

You can implement the same method to make housing for Barn Owls in the area that surrounds you.

First, you’ll need to be sure that Barn Owls are native to your area, otherwise you may not get the desired results with your new, wooden lawn ornaments. Assuming they are native to your area, you’ll need to be tactful about where you plan to install the box houses.

Proper placement is a most crucial rule in roosting and should not be overlooked. Barn Owls often prey away from their nests to keep predators at a loss to their whereabouts. Thus, installing box houses too close to your problem area may not achieve any long term goals.

In addition to old, wooden crates, other boxes or spare wood, like plywood, can easily be transformed into safe havens for nesting Barn Owls. Perch the houses out of reach from domestic animals, like irrepressibly curious cats, to ensure there are no chances of foul-play between other inhabitants.

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