CONSTRUCT A RAPTOR NEST BOX
Kestrels and Screech Owls, both cavity nesting raptors, will readily take to man-made nest boxes if they are available. As nesting sites for these species continue to decline due to clear cutting of forests, suburban development and altered farming methods, so too do their populations. You can lend them a hand by building and erecting nest boxes on your property. The plans are simple and the reward for investing a small amount of time is great: you may have the pleasure of watching a owl or falcon family grow and fledge in your backyard.
Please study the diagram for the proper construction. The actual measurements can vary from 8 x 8 to 10 x 10 inches (inside of box). The placement of the hole may vary from 9 to 12 in. above the floor. The size of the hole is important. When purchasing materials you need only 1 board, it should be 1" x 10" and 8' long. For the best results use wood that weathers well (cedar or pine). Do Not Paint The Inside Of The Box. Outside should be protected with a light coloured stain or paint.
Since kestrels and screech owls only nest in previously existing cavities, they do not add nesting materials. In your man made box you need to add wood shavings or soft pine needles, approximately 1 to 1 1/2" deep. do not use cedar shavings or sawdust. It may be harmful to the young. If the box cannot be placed where it is inaccessible to predators (cats, raccoon, etc.), then place a 30 inch high metal sleeve around the tree or pole. This will discourage unwelcome visitors.
When installing the box, place it 10 to 15 feet high on a pole, on a building or a tree, at the edge of a wooded area, or meadow or in the back of your yard. Place the box so the hole faces away from prevailing winds. Best results are obtained if more than one box is erected, as squirrels, starlings and sparrows will take advantage of these homes as well. Predator guards should be placed over the hole to prevent raccoons from robbing nests. These guards can be built by using 1" thick blocks of wood with 3" holes drilled out to match the boxes hole, then glued or screwed onto the box front. These help prevent the raccoons from reaching down into the box and grabbing eggs or young.The demand for cavity nesting sites is becoming seriously competitive. With increased logging occurring in forested areas as well as urban development destroying many existing wood lots there is a real shortage of nesting sites available. If you have to cut that old hollow tree down in your yard that has perhaps provided nesting sites for many birds and mammals over the years, why not please replace it with a man made nest box ? You could be helping your local wildlife.
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