I have now finished assembling all my nest boxes (21 in total) only 4 of these have yet to be treated with a preservative and put up in there final position. Every box has been made the same as the image below, this type of box design incorporates some unique features that are intended to attract the attention of the little owl.
• Entrance hole of 70mm in diameter, just right for the little owl but hopefully too small for jackdaws and stock doves but too large for tits and other smaller species.
• An entrance tunnel which goes from the front of the box to the rear ledge, again this is to deter other birds whilst being very suitable for the crawling little owl.
• The rear ledge is intended to keep the juvenile birds in the nest box longer, it is not until they get to a certain age that they are able to scramble/flutter from the nest chamber up onto the ledge, up through the tunnel and out.
• A sloping roof and front overhang was used because this would obviously enable rain to run off the roof easier rather than pool on the top and drain in to the box.
• An access door and latch has been fitted to every box, this will allow quick and simple entry for purposes of observation and ringing tasks.
• Every box was lined with about 2" of fine wood chippings and sawdust, this will help to absorb any moisture and offer an idea substrate for the hen bird to create a depression for the secure location of her eggs.
• Finally every box was treated with a safe timber preserve.
Position of Box
All the selected locations currently hold pairs of little owls; in the majority of cases the actual nest location/entrance was known. Therefore the box was positioned as close as possible without trying to disturb them too much. Where feasible a limb or branch of the nest tree was close or slightly below that of the entrance hole, this would allow for easier juvenile movements to and fro from the box. Where this was not possible a perch of artificial branch was put in place to create the same effect. The secured height of the box from the ground was governed by the height of the existing natural nest entrance, this could have been as low as 4 ft and as high as 25 ft. The direction of the entrance hole was again the same as the existing natural entrance, there didn't seem to be any trends to this, some east some south etc.
The two biggest questions yet to answered and only time will tell are, how do I discourage squirrels from taking up residence in the boxes and can anything else be done to encourage the owls to leave their natural nest sites and take up our offered artificial ones???????
Boring info for anyone who may be interested...........
• Made from 3/4" ply wood
• Height (front) - 14", (rear) - 16"
• Width - 13"
• Depth (front to back) - 13 1/2"
• Weight - 15 lbs
• 9 different sized pieces of timber (pre-cut to size)
• 21 x 2" zinc plated screws
• 8 x 3/4" brass screws
• 2 x brass hinges
• 1 x door clasp and eye
• 2 thunder bolts
• Pre drilling and assembly - 45 to 60 mins
• Wood preserve treatment - 15 mins
• Driving to location and position on tree - 1 to 2 hrs (1 to 4 hrs if a pub visit is to be included!)
All this of course was x 21 TIMES!!!!!!!
• Total cost??????????......inclusive of all materials, fixtures and fittings, treatments, nest materials, erection etc £17.50 each (many thanks to LROS for supplying the timber)
So if you would like to donate a box or two please contact me!!!!!!!!!!