Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hey! Anyone in the U.K. who has been involved in the process of regulation and is involved w/ the regulatory process there want to advise us about what works and what doesn't? Even what design is best, the pluses and minuses of various designs and setups?

This is the text from a UK page. Note how the boxes are all monitored by conservationists? And they have a picture of the design, from above. I am a big fan of the design w/ the separate entrance that protects the owls from direct wind and weather - with the hallway they have to go through to get to the entrance. It solves a myriad of problems. This design, however, needs work. It needs an 8 or 10 inch drop from the doorway into the box itself so the babies won't easily fall out, and won't be able to get to the door until they are at least strong enough and coordinated enough to climb up to it. It also has a perch just 6 or so inches outside the door, which is a place to start and hold on, while contemplating other branches to hop to. It's a start.

We ought to be looking at other box designs and coming up with what we think is idea. There's no need to rush to judgement on this. I think a circumspect, careful survey of what's out there and what works is needed before we make recommendations for a regulation box in the US. But this is a place to start, anyway.

I don't think I can load the picture, which is worth a thousand words, so here is the link that shows the interior design of the box, with 2 owlets posing in there for good measure, although since the top is off the box I imagine these are rehabbing birds...

To see the picture, go to:

This is a U.K. Program;
Adopt a Box
Adopt a Box: wild birds of prey need places to nest
Adopt a Box with the Hawk and Owl Trust
Adopting a nestbox through the Hawk and Owl Trust is fun.You'll be kept up to date with what's going on in your adopted box.You can also learn more about barn owls and the other birds that use the special nestboxes put up and monitored.
Shortage of homes
Loss of old hollow trees and conversion of barns for housing has dramatically reduced the supply of traditional nesting sites for species such as owls. It is estimated that four in every five barn owls now use nestboxes, demonstrating how important boxes are for this species.
Tawny owls, little owls and kestrels are also benefiting from nestboxes, which are put up in carefully selected areas with suitable feeding habitat.
How you can help
Adopt a Box yourself or as a present for a friend - it is a worthwhile way to help owls and other birds of prey. There are nestboxes in many parts of the country and you can Adopt a Box in one of seven regions.

During the breeding season specially trained and licensed conservationists monitor the boxes. Each year you will receive news of the birds that may have used the box allocated to you.You might be lucky enough to hear that eggs were laid and young reared. Most of the boxes are designed for barn owls but other species which might use them are tawny or little owls, kestrel or jackdaw.

Protecting the breeding birds
In the interest of conservation we cannot tell you exactly where your box is. The nests of all birds of prey are protected and barn owls have additional legal protection. It is vital that the birds are not disturbed while rearing their young. Furthermore other adopters may share your box.



Dadu said...

Here is a link to a pdf on another design with a corridor and an opening at the top:

HeyNicePlanet said...

I think there is some real possibility of flexibility in design with barn/structure mounted boxes - they can be bigger. Pole mounted boxes are tricker - you need the box to be smaller and lighter, but also to provide adequate ventilation and shade - therefore more design limitations. There are some plastic boxes out there - for example at:
The same issue of needing "branching" areas exist - but possibly an add-on surround balcony could be developed. Or something else - just food for thought. The website has some good barn owl resources - a state by state listing that may have uesful links for folks in different areas of the US:
I also wonder just a bit if the plastic is healthy for the owls - and if the boxes are made of recyclable plastic.

silkenpaw said...

I wonder about the plastic as well. It would also be useful to know what kind of wood to use. Much of the wood we use in South Florida is chemically treated to keep it from rotting away during or wet summers. I worry that if it's toxic to mold, it might be toxic to owls as well. So suggestions about the kind of wood to use in building your owlbox would be welcome.

Faire said...

There is indeed some concern over the toxicity of treated wood. Much such wood contains arsenic:

There is also growing concern about pthalates, biphenyls, and other toxic ingredients in plastic. There is an excellent new book by two Canadian environmentalists, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, who studied the toxins in everyday products. It is called "Slow Death By Rubber Duck." Here's a link to the site:

Lynn said... mentioned the UK box needed changing the deeper drop down from the entrance hole..but I think you might have misunderstood..because several places they mention that the hole has to be up higher so the owlets can't easily get out before they can maneuver safely..and not go outside too soon where they can is another link from that same site..and has it divided into boxes used in the different situations, last was the pole box I is the web addy..
thanks! Lynn

Dadu said...

Yes, the UK boxes seem deep enough; don't have those little corridors at the entrance though. The wooden poles they use are substantial, but the owlets could not climb the pole and get back in their box. They discourage predators with the pole design and even instruct to apply a 1.5m sheet of slick metal on the pole to keep predators from climbing the pole. Is their exterior platform adequate?