I received several letters about the owl box mentioned in last week's article. This is a good time of year to get busy and build birdhouses for the coming spring. All it takes is some used boards, a saw, a few nails and of course a little of your time.
An owl box for screech owls is built by using the same dimensions that are used for wood duck, squirrel or kestrel boxes. A 12" x 14" overlapping roof and a 12" floor. The sides, front and back, should be 12" x 20" with a 3 1/2" hole 4" below the tape, placed in the center of the front board. A few 1/4" holes drilled in the bottom will help with drainage. A 1" x 3" board nailed vertically to the back of the box so that it extends 8" or so above the roof will give you a way to nail the nesting box to a tree, pole or building.
The nesting box should be placed 15 to 20 feet up and not facing directly into the sun. The box's hole can be facing the house so you can watch it from a window. More than one of these boxes in the yard is just fine. The more places for birds the better, I always say, and if you are in the mood to build more than one or two, an extra birdhouse makes a great gift. That goes for bluebird houses as well.
American kestrels and wood ducks are more apt to use the nesting box to raise their young. They don't seem to mind that their nesting place isn't so well hidden.
It's important to place the box where you can watch it. I glance up at the nesting boxes in my yard every time I walk past them, you never know what you might see inside the hole.
Attracting birds and other wildlife to your yard isn't all that hard to do, by simply providing the things they need. The very best part though comes in the opportunity to observe them. This becomes the main reason to have wildlife around you. It's a chance to really learn about what's going on in the real world, plus the hours of enjoyment you add to your life.
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