Thursday, April 12, 2012

Barred Owl Nestbox

Another experiment in assisted housing is underway at the Beaver Boardwalk! Using plans from a barred owl research program I built a nestbox in the hopes of attracting a pair of house-hunting barred owls. The box is made out of 3/4 inch pressure-treated plywood screwed together and chained to a big white spruce tree. Barred owls are cavity nesters but they don't make cavities. Also they are pretty big - much too big to fit into a pileated woodpecker hole. So they have to find a large natural cavity to nest in. In our area a study some years back by Lisa Takats Priestley found them nesting mostly in large balsam poplars or aspens with natural cavities formed by large branches falling off or the trunk breaking to expose internal rot in a chimney cavity which is open to the sky. I hope the pair that lives in the Maxwell Lake area will eventually find their new option and decide to move in. I don't expect much action this year as I believe the pair has already found a nest site.

The photo shows me posing with the installed box about 20 m up a big spruce tree. I'm not going to disclose the location because owls need their privacy, but I'll keep watch and if a pair moves in I'll let folks know and offer guided tours on request.

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