Tuesday, January 31, 2012


In May of last year I built an owl shack to hang in my big pecan tree in the front yard.  I often heard owls outside at night and thought that was so awesome that I wanted to encourage them to live in my area. 

I found house plans specifically for the eastern screech owl online, and used wood I had on hand to put it together.  I had some huge pieces of tree bark I had been saving for fireplace kindling, and I used it on the outside of the house like siding for camouflage.  Lastly, I put a layer of wood shavings in the bottom as directed for bedding.  Instructions for hanging it in the tree were also rather specific.  With the tree that I have, I was able to abide by all of suggestions except for the direction that it faced.  I initially hung it facing the direction suggested, but quickly realized that at night my neighbors' driveway lights lit it up like an airport runway.  I moved it around to the other side of the tree.  It faces the sidewalk now -- not recommended -- but it met the other recommendations, so it was a start.  And I waited.

When I told people about it, they told me I would probably get bees in it.  Or squirrels.  I shrugged them off -- who knows what would happen? 

My previous posts about my owl shack are here:


At Halloween when I had the ladder out I mustered my courage and peered inside.  Nobody home.  At Christmas, again with the ladder, I lifted the lid and peered in.  Empty, but there was a well in the wood shavings.  Hmmm.. had something been resting there?

And then last week -- on the way home from a dog walk at dusk I looked up, and...


(Okay, so that is a photo I found on the internet -- but it's what he looked like!  I took a photo, but it was too dark to see anything in it.)  And then as I wheeled out my trash bins that evening for next day pick up, he craned around out the front and to the side and watched me.  It was awesome.

I haven't seen him since.  I hope that my staring or my trash bin noise didn't discourage him from returning.  But regardless, it is an encouraging start... I don't know how long he had been there, but I will be watching for him again.


Carolyn said...

Wow! That's awesome! I didn't even know owl houses are a thing until I read this post. I'll definitely be looking into whether or not they're functional in Arizona.

Dallas Fruit Grower said...

If you saw an owl in there, she is there to stay until her eggs hatch. She is there, you just can't see her. She'll stay down below the hole during the day. She may already be sitting on some eggs. Go sit on your porch a little before dusk and hang out. You will eventually see them. Give it four weeks or so for the eggs to hatch (I can't remember offhand how long it takes). Then, start hanging out on your porch at dusk. The male owl will come in to visit at dusk. He helps feed the owlets. Then as it gets dark, the female will fly out looking for food. You'll see the male and female going back and forth bringing food to the babies. You'll know the owlets are about to get a food delivery, because they start to "cheep cheep". Start learning how to whistle like a screech owl. The owls will reply. The owlets will "cheep" to you. It is an easy whistle to learn -- just a slow trill. As the owlets get older, you'll probably start seeing them stick their head out of the box during late afternoon. Invest in a really good external flash for your camera, and you might get some good feeding photos. It's quite a challenge trying to get a photo of them feeding.