Constructing a Barred Owl Nest Box

The barred owl is one of the most recognizable owls in North America, particularly in the U.S. Having one around in your compound is a dream for many bird lovers and bird watchers. One of the best ways to accord yourself the opportunity to watch barred owls is to construct a shelter for them around your compound, thus attracting them to live near you.

Constructing a barred owl nest box is not such a daunting task.  On the contrary, it can be a very thrilling experience to pass your time in and engage your constructive side.  On the other hand, if you’d prefer to purchase a barred or barn owl house just follow that link.

There are a number of different plans that require different procedures and plans. This plan is as flexible in terms of size as it can be adjusted to other sizes. More importantly it is a guide to building barred owl nest boxes that are long lasting. The floor plan described herein is of a nest box measuring 19”x19”.

You will need a ¾” exterior grade plywood measuring 4×8 although there will be some remaining plywood pieces. If you have leftover pieces of plywood, you can use them instead of purchasing a new piece of plywood. It is a good idea to use pressure treated plywood if you do not intend to weatherproof the nest box. You will also require cutting tools such as a circular saw, a drill, jigsaw and a miter saw (although it not mandatory to have a miter saw).

Assembly Procedures

Cut five pieces of the plywood all measuring 24″x19”. The five cut pieces will form the top and the sides of the nest box. Stain all the cut pieces with a preservative and give the pieces ample time to dry. Once dry, assemble the sides of the side using 2” wood screws, making sure that none protrude into the box. You want to be sure the owls don’t get caught up on a screw.

After the assembly of the sides is complete, measure and cut out the floor of the box and treat it with the preservative. For this particular specs, the floor will measure approximately 19″x19”. If you use different width sized plywood, the size of the floor will vary.

Fasten by screwing the floor after the piece has dried. Cut the entrance hole on one of the sides of the box. This is where a jigsaw comes in handy. The entrance hole should be approximately (6”x6”) in diameter. Stick two small pieces of plywood together and screw them. Fix this piece on the inside part of the box just below the entrance. This piece provides owlets with a standing platform.

Fix the roof with the last remaining 19”x24” piece. Find a piece of branch that solid, about 2 inches thick and longer than the width of the nest box. Fasten this piece just below the entrance leaving some 1 to 1 ½ inches of space between the branch and the face of the side.

With this, your box nest is complete and ready for placement in a tree. Placing of the nest box should be done at about 15 to 20 feet off the ground in order to attract owls.

And lastly, check out this video of the barred owl mating calls. Awesome!

Tips for Barn Owl House Placement

If you have rodents on your property and wish to use natural means to rid yourself of them, attracting barn owls is one of the best ways to do so. However, you need to carefully consider where to place the owl boxes before you begin. Doing so will provide the highest level of assurance that owls will start to inhabit the boxes you have placed on your property for them.  For advice on placing owl boxes talk to our friends at

If you have been using poisonous means to control your rodent population, it is vital that you wait at least three months before the installation of your owl houses. Otherwise, you run the risk of the owls eating rodents that have ingested poison and thus potentially killing the owls too.

The best time of year to place the boxes is generally January through March, although barn owls are known to mate two times per year so it is safe to install the boxes throughout the year. The further south your property, the earlier you should begin. This will give the owls the best opportunity to find the homes before mating season.

It is generally recommended that you give each mating barn owl pair sufficient area to hunt and thus spreading the boxes out to roughly 1 box every 5 to 10 acres, depending on the amount of food sources in the area. The male and female in a couple do not necessarily co-inhabit a home, but you do want the males close enough for mating. Once you have the majority of homes inhabited on your land, you can add others as you feel appropriate.

Make sure that you never place these homes on or close to utility lines or roads. Owls tend to fly low, and being near a highway can be lethal for them. Also, utility poles are meant for electricity, not animal homes.

You should attempt to keep the boxes away from human activity as much as possible, especially swimming pools. The young can easily drown in these, so pools and ponds should be out of their field of view when in or around their box.

The ideal placement for a barn owl house is a post that has strong trees 30′ or so away. The post will minimize the amount of predators that can reach the nest, while the trees help to provide a natural area for the owls to live. Ideally, the opening of the home is toward an open area. This not only allows the barn owls to find them more easily, they can live and raise their young better if there is open space below them. A clear path for flying in and out of the home is vital.

Depending on the box you buy you may need to place it in shade. Be sure to check with the seller or manufacturer of the box on proper installation. You can purchase or make boxes that are lighter in color to help reduce the amount of heat that accumulates in the box. If the site does not provide natural shade, make sure the box has UV protection and good ventilation to help keep the hot summer sun off of the house.

Attracting barn owls to your property is a fantastic organic choice for getting rid of the rodent pests on your property. Make sure to follow these suggestions for happy and healthy owls.