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Exterior barn owl boxes

Barn owl carrying rodent

Image: Peter Cornelius

Exterior barn owl nestboxes can be fixed to trees or to the outside of buildings.

Where possible, they should face onto grassland and be reasonably conspicuous with an open flight path to them. They should not face into the prevailing wind.

Although barn owl nests are usually well spaced out, placing boxes in pairs, from twenty to a few hundred metres apart, will provide a pair with roosting as well as nesting sites. The male and female roost separately, and some pairs use different boxes in those good years when they can have two broods.

Since many barn owls are killed by road traffic, it is best not to put up owl boxes close to motorways and main roads.

Barn owls are specially protected by law, and so it is illegal to disturb them close to their nest. Occupied nests - even your box - should only be visited by someone who holds a licence.

Make a box

You can download a plan for an external barn owl nestbox by clicking on the link to the right.

As you make up the A-frame box, attach a 200 x 485mm piece of rough-sawn timber to the inside of the back panel. The fixing to the tree will go through this reinforcement. Don’t attach the front panel until the box is hung up.

Bird guide