Barn Owls need areas of rough grassland to hunt for their favourite prey of field voles and other small mammals. Their ideal farmland habitat is small fields where the grass is cut once or twice a year for hay or lightly grazed by livestock. Unfortunately, this type of grassland is becoming rare; being replaced by arable or improved grassland which is cut for sileage or intensively grazed throughout the year.
Where suitable habitat exists Barn Owls are likely to set up residence. As with other owls they do not build nests but make a bed of crushed pellets (the undigestable remains of their prey which are regurgitated through the mouth) in a suitably sized dark hollow. Traditionally barn owls would have nested in caves and tree hollows, but man-made buildings gave them a perfect alternative.
Many old barns are being converted into desirable residences and newer ones do not have the easy access that barn owls require. Boxes can be provided to give resident barn owls a much needed helping hand.
Barn Owls usually breed between April and September (although nesting can take place in almost any month) and the average brood size is between 4 and 6 owlets. As a Schedule 1 Specially Protected Species it is against the law to intentionally disturb nesting barn owls, so boxes should only be checked outside of the breeding season or by someone who is licenced to inspect barn owl nests.
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Tawny Owls are the true woodland owls, and our most common species. They eat small mammals, insects and occasionally small birds and frogs. More often heard than seen the Tawny Owl makes the classic hooting call, along with the high pitched 'kiwick' call of the females; mistaken by Shakespeare as 'twitt twoo', this is actually a pair of Tawny Owls calling to each other.
Tawny Owl Box Putting up a Tawny Owl Box Tawny Owlet
Tawny Owls begin nesting in March when they lay between 2 and 4 eggs on a bed of broken pellets. The owlets leave the nest at around 4-5 weeks of age whilst still fluffy and unable to fly. They clamber around in the treetops for a few weeks whilst still being fed by their parents, and will not return to their nestbox.
Little Owls were introduced to Britain at the end of the 19th century and have become our second most common owl species, although they are now suffering a decline due largely to the increasing use of chemical pesticides. Their favoured habitat is pastural farmland and orchards, which provide them with plenty of invertebrate prey as well as small mammals such as Voles, Mice and Shrews.
Little Owl Box Little Owl
Little owls usually begin nesting towards from the begining to the end of April, when they will typically lay between 2 and 5 eggs. No nest is built as such, rather a layer of pellets in a dark hollow.
To purchase nestboxes please visit www.specialisednestboxes.com