Owls are one of the largest birds, with their wingspans reaching up to 10 feet. As apex predators they prey primarily upon smaller animals like rodents but will also take insects, frogs, snakes, lizards, small mammals such as rabbits and mice, and even large birds. Despite these incredible abilities owls are shy creatures that prefer staying hidden away from human eyes.
The best way to attract them is by providing an inviting environment for nesting. In other words if you want owls to visit your backyard then make sure it’s not only easy accessible for them but also provides all of their needs. Here are some proven ways how to do this…
- 9 Tips for Attracting Owls
- 1. Use a Bird Feeder
- 2. Build A Nesting Box or Shelter
- 3. Create Owl Perches and Hideaway
- 4. Keep Small Animals Away From The Nests
- 5. Plant Trees And Shrubbery For Food
- 6. Make Sure You Have Enough Water
- 7. Maintaine A Healthy Garden Enviornment
- 8. Give Them Something Extra, Like Milk Or Bread Crumbss
- 9. Install Motion Activated Lights To Attract Owls
9 Tips for Attracting Owls
1. Use a Bird Feeder
Bird feeders provide food sources at regular intervals throughout the day which attracts many different types of wild bird species including raptors, songbirds, wading birds, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, gulls and hawks. This is one of the easiest ways how to attract these majestic creatures into your garden since most often these birds have specific feeding times during the day when they come back to eat from the same spot every time.
If you don’t own any birdfeeders yet there are plenty of good quality ones available nowadays so you can pick one according to what type of birds you’d like to attract – e.g., blue jay, chickadee, nuthatches etc. Another option would be building a new one yourself using materials from home.
Here are two simple ideas on how to build a nice looking wooden feeder suitable for attracting all kinds of birds.
Make it out of scrap lumber (the sturdier the better) cut down 2 pieces of 4×4 boards measuring about 3-4′ long.
Use 1 piece for the body and set it inside, while attaching another piece horizontally across the top forming a roof over the box.
On the side opposite to where you place the door add a little shelf, approximately 9″ wide and 12″ high. Place something heavy on top of it to keep it open once put everything together.
Another idea is to use recycled plastic bottles instead of wood. If you’re interested in making your own owl feeders check out this article here.
2. Build A Nesting Box or Shelter
Building a nest is very important part of the process because without shelter and protection they won’t be able to lay eggs and raise young chicks. It takes quite a lot of work to create a proper structure so I’ll just show you an example on how to get started step by step:
- Start by collecting branches and leaves. Ideally look for those that aren’t too thick.
- Take a branch and break off the end with a pair of scissors. Take a second branch and hold it vertically against the first one creating a “V”. Cut through both sides of the V shape leaving enough space between the ends of the stick to fit a flat sheet of plywood inside.
- Once you’ve got the frame start cutting slits along the length of each side of the stick parallel to the bottom edge. Carefully remove the bark of the sticks and scrape away the sap until dry. Once done insert the sticks through the slit holes and poke them firmly into the ground. Do this on both sides of the frame.
- Cut several pieces of thin cedar shingle strips approx. 5″-8″ x 24″, depending on size. One strip per foot should suffice.
- Lay the strips overlapping half way onto each other covering the entire surface of the framed area. Then screw the strips tightly onto the outside edges of the frame. Leave room for access underneath.
- Fill gaps around the frames with pine straw or cedarschips mixed with shredded newspaper. Overlap them slightly so they cover less than ½ inch deep. Fill remaining hole under the entrance with peat moss or compost.
- When it comes to laying the floor fill remaining gaps under the entry point with more of the same material mentioned above. Add additional layers of insulation if desired.
- Cover the entrance completely with the mesh wire screen.
- Now wrap twine loosely three times around the perimeter of the frame and secure them by tying them near the top corners.
- For extra security tie a few more lengths of twine directly under the entrance. Now wait for the right season to begin construction.
3. Create Owl Perches and Hideaway
You may think that hiding places are just great for keeping intruders away however that isn’t always true. Sometimes the best solution is finding the perfect location for them to stay. By doing this they become accustomed to coming back and eventually will stop trying to hide from us.
So how exactly does this work? Well, let me tell you a quick story of my friend who had a backyard full of sparrowhawks. He tried to hunt them down whenever he heard one nearby his house but after a couple years decided to try something else. After digging a pit he created an ideal hideout for the sparrowhawk in the center of the yard. Within days the hawk was spending its nights there rather than hunting sparrows. Soon after that he built a similar pit for red squirrels. Guess what happened next?! Yes, they made use of the same exact strategy!
This is why we need to give our feathered guests lots of choices to choose from. Providing multiple shelters allows them to feel safe and comfortable. When picking a spot you must consider things like sunlight availability, water source, wind direction and temperature changes, predator presence and activity levels, and distance to neighboring habitats.
It’s a common misconception that owls roost close to where they hunt due mainly to their low energy consumption. However, studies have shown that they actually spend far more time preening themselves before going to bed than they do actively hunting. So remember to leave sufficient distance between the nests and sleeping areas.
4. Keep Small Animals Away From The Nests
Small furry critters love to dig burrows, tunnels and dens wherever possible. Since owl homes are located within yards they shouldn’t escape attention either. There are various methods and products designed specifically to prevent raccoons, foxes, badgers and skunks from invading the territory surrounding the dwelling.
One of the simplest solutions is to simply install fencing around the property. You could also build a raised platform atop the existing fence with spikes protruding upwards. Just remember to attach warning signs at least 100 ft. apart pointing towards the nest to alert people passing by about the danger zone.
Keep in mind that these measures might help deter small animals from approaching the nest itself but still allowing them to enter the immediate area. Therefore, installing motion activated floodlights around the perimeter helps improve safety further.
5. Plant Trees And Shrubbery For Food
Most native trees and shrubbery produce seeds that contain higher amounts of protein than nonnative varieties. Additionally, in order to successfully reproduce, plants require ample sunlight and moisture. Fertilizer applications are usually unnecessary and undesirable because it promotes excessive vegetative growth which doesn’t benefit seed production.
Since owls are mostly nocturnal and tend to avoid bright light at night they require food sources during this period. Because of this reason planting colorful flowers, berries, nuts and fruits is a great choice. Many of these foods are already naturally covered in protective waxes that protect them from predation and extreme weather conditions.
In addition to providing adequate food resources, native plant life creates dense habitat for wildlife thus reducing competition for scarce resources. On average owls consume roughly 6% of their weight daily therefore having a variety of natural food sources makes it easier for them to survive.
6. Make Sure You Have Enough Water
Sufficient amount of clean fresh water is essential to sustaining healthy vegetation. Without it, tree roots cannot absorb nutrients effectively resulting in unhealthy foliage. The rule of thumb is to ensure there is a minimum depth of six inches of water at the base of the tree trunk.
7. Maintaine A Healthy Garden Enviornment
Plants play key roles in supporting ecosystems by converting sun energy to chemical energy via photosynthesis. An ecosystem consists of living organisms interacting with each other and/or the physical environment. Most importantly, plants provide critical habitat for wildlife such as worms, snails, grubs, ants and caterpillars. They serve as hosts for beneficial insects and pollinators.
By maintaining a well maintained garden, you’ll indirectly contribute to the health and vitality of local biodiversity. Not only will this increase the overall value of your property but it will also enhance the enjoyment of your family and friends.
8. Give Them Something Extra, Like Milk Or Bread Crumbss
Providers of natural food supplies for owls include milk, bread crumbs, cornmeal, peanut butter, suet, bacon grease, millet, mealworms, dried fruit, vegetables, and hard-boiled egg yolks. All owing owls access to these foods throughout the year will help them maintain their body weights and stay healthy during cold weather months.
Aside from these products you can also leave out fruits like apples, oranges and bananas (cut into pieces). It’s important to note that all foods should be placed in a shallow dish away from bird feeders which may attract rats and mice who can carry diseases such as Hantavirus. The bottom line is that if you feed an animal it will expect food on a regular basis which can result in them causing damage to your property or becoming a nuisance.
9. Install Motion Activated Lights To Attract Owls
You might have heard about owls being attracted to light due to their nocturnal habits but you might be surprised at how many people don’t realize that light can attract owls during the day as well. If you live near trees with owls nesting in them or in an area where you frequently see them during the day then installing motion activated lights can help keep them away from your home and garden so they don’t get scared off by the sudden bright light.