Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

What A Sterling Box

During the last year I have manufactured and erected (with the help of Col & a few other victims) over 40 bespoke Little Owl boxes. Thus far the uptake of these boxes by the owls has been a bit disappointing, only six! Now there could be many factors or reasons why they haven't taken to them more readily, the obvious ones are, poor location, too low, too high, facing the wrong direction, etc etc, or maybe a poor box design?????

I know the old box design has worked well in other parts of the country, but that is mainly in areas where I believe there is a distinct lack of trees and natural cavities, so the owls don't really have a lot of choice.

So with these thoughts in mind I went about designing a new box, but what should it be like?

Having seen hundreds of natural nest locations I needed to work out what the common denominators are, and then I needed to start thinking like an owl and then how do I implement my thoughts and findings into the design.

Firstly, a lot of natural nest sites have a landing platform, usually created when a limb tears off the main trunk, so I need one of these. Little Owls love natural sites where there is a long tunnel that leads to the nest chamber, I think it gives them a sense of security and deters predators from entering, OK I need that too. It  needs to be dry, dark and draught proof, yet roomy enough to cater for the hen owl and say three or four fully grown juveniles. I would also like to give the male owl some where away from the main chamber to roost and the design must not make it too easy for the juveniles to wonder out and be predated when too young........easy hey!

Well after loads of thought I finally came upon what will hopefully be the perfect design? So 4 weeks ago I quickly made my first version out of some scrap timber and erected it near a know breeding site, within 24 hours of putting it up it was being used by the resident owls!

Now this particular box was made without drawings, it was all in my head. So before mass production could commence I wanted Colin see it and gain his approval. So we went over to see it last weekend, Col's first comment was on the shabbiness of the construction but he thought the design was just perfect, especially when he looked inside and it had four roosting owls in it!

So last night Col came over and we set about making a "professional" version, it took us a few hours as we needed to make a few slight alterations to the original design. 

So with all the criteria met, here it is, obviously with the roof removed.  

Col looking very pleased with his evenings work!

It was a pure coincidence that the timber manufacturers logo ended up being in just the right place, but Col and I were both in agreement that this box will be aptly known as the "Sterling" but we couldn't agree on what the "OSB" should stand for, maybe "Owl Survey Box? If you can think of a better name using the "OSB" please leave me a comment or send me an email.........there could be royalties in it for you! 


  1. Looks like a very clever design, Paul, and not too difficult to make. What sort of size are your entrance holes?

  2. Thanks Richard, 75mm x 50mm, it appears to be small but the owls can get in easy, and hopefully no stock doves or jackdaws!

    Come on mate, give us an idea on the "OSB"......??

  3. The only one that I could think of is unprintable - but hinges on the fact that you are hoping the birds will breed in it!

  4. O.K. Paul, I'll give it a go....

    The Sterling:

    "Oh So Beautiful"

    "Obviously Sexy Box"

    or my favorite...

    "Owly Sin Bin"

    What are the final dimensions? I'd like to give it a go over here in the states. Great idea!!


  5. Interesting and well thought-out design, I will be fun to see if it works out well.

  6. I think Richards thinking Owl Shagging Box if he dose'nt I do................lol