It is well documented that owls can reduce rodent populations by 75% or more! Their natural ability to control disease-carrying root-gnawing mice, rats, moles, voles, gophers and other costly rodents makes owls an indispensable addition to your property. Owls rely on their keen nighttime vision, but also use their highly-developed sense of hearing to locate prey. So how do I go about making my backyard an owl-friendly place?
Keep in mind that if you have set out toxic rodent baits to kill rodent critters, you will be poisoning the owls as well. Owls can become so weak and debilitated by the toxic effects that they are rendered incapable of hunting, eating or defending themselves. It’s a slow and painful certain death sentence that can only be reversed if the owl is rescued in time, and given Vitamin K to combat the anticoagulants in rodent baits.
In fact, your family pet is also in jeopardy if it consumes rodents that have eaten these highly toxic rodenticides. The reason is that the rodent baits work very slowly on the rat, mouse or other critter by causing its blood to become so thin that it bleeds to death. So be sure that you have removed any and all rodent poisons and baits before you seek to attract owls to your backyard.
The best and most logical way to attract owls is to mimic their preferred habitat to the best of your ability.
1. Do Not Use Toxic Chemicals on your lawn, gardens, trees, shrubs, or orchard! Birds are nature’s pest patrol. Let the predators take care of the prey for you. That’s what they were designed to do, and they do it very well if we let them. And that includes everything from insects to weeds to rodents. Organic and natural pest controls are a much better and safer choice.
2. Owls like to use cavities in large trees, and will use old hawk’s nests, abandoned buildings with open access and lofts in farm buildings in which to nest. If you own a tall outbuilding such as a shed with an open loft area, leaving the upper door open might entice an owl to nest in it. Owls breed from mid-March right through mid-May.
3. If you don’t have any tall trees or suitable outbuildings nearby, consider installing owl nesting boxes. They are easy to construct and can be mounted from 8′ and higher. That height will discourage any starlings from using the box. Add dry leaves, dried pine needles, wood shavings or clean rabbit bedding from the pet store to the bottom of the nesting box to a depth of 3″. This will cushion the owl’s eggs and make the nest box easier to clean.
4. It is not hard to ‘call an owl in’ to you. If you have heard owls hooting nearby, you can answer their call. They will come to investigate. If they find your owl nesting box or other good place to nest, they will gladly accept your generous offer. Do not, however, continuously mimic them. In that case they can become confused at not finding an owl at the other end of the ‘hoots’ that you are emitting! Their frustration might lead them away from your property.
Owls perch on high during the day to sleep, and then descend on open grassy or wooded areas at night to hunt. If you have gardens, then you have rodents. If you have rodents, you will be able to attract owls by following the suggestions listed above.
A word of warning though: if you have small outdoor cats, it would be wise not to let them out at night. Larger birds, like the Great Horned Owls will hunt prey as large as porcupines, skunks and rabbits. Owls are silent because of the curvature and softness of their extremely lightweight feathers. Their stealth and the element of surprise, as well as their keen eyesight and sense of hearing, are the keys to their success as hunters.
Free Instructions for Building Owl Nest Boxes: http://www.wildlifehc.org/barn-owl-nest-boxes/
Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive. Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape. Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Visit today!
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