As some of you know from my last few blog posts, I have been given permission to record and photograph the wildlife on a local farm. This patch of land is home to a whole host of residents from Roe deer to Little Owls. With this in mind I wanted to put up some nest boxes and top of my agenda was to create nest boxes for the resident Little owls. Now with the help of my Dad we managed to get the first prototype built. Here’s how we went about it.
First steps were to measure out the sections we needed to build each panel. We followed Bob Sheppard’s Little owl design as it was recommended by the BTO. We used standard plywood but I would recommend marine plywood if you can afford to. With the help of our four-legged helper, Scruffy, we were all set to go and cut the pieces to fit it all together.
To start with we opted for a handheld circular saw to see whether we needed to bring out the bigger table saw. After the first cut we decided that although it could be done with the handheld saw, the larger table saw would get the job done a lot quicker and then when we needed to cut out the finer elements to the box we later use a jigsaw and drill.
After cutting out the sides, back and front of the box we then went about cutting the roof and the base. For this we left around 10cm overlap on the front of the roof to stop water from dripping into the entrance hole. We also left about 1cm overlap around the rest of the box for the same purpose.
Once the main components of the box had been cut we set about strengthening the inside of the box with a supporting brace in each corner of the box. This also helps to secure the box better as we were screwing into the support as opposed to the sides of the box, weakening the structure.
For the Little Owl box it is advised to add some sort of tunnel as naturally Little Owls prefer to nest in tree cavities. To emulate this we created a small platform tunnel inside the entrance hole. For this we used a jigsaw as we also had to account for the supporting braces in each corner. Creating a sort of jigsaw piece we were able to move the shelf up and down until it was exactly level within the box before securing it in.
Once we had secured the shelf in place we turned our attention to the entrance hole. For this we found an old jam jar, a little bigger than the original design, that worked really well. For the hole we drilled an initial hole in the middle for the jigsaw blade to fit through. After getting caught up a few times with the extension cord we managed to get the hole cut, that is us and not the saw otherwise that could have ended badly !
With the box almost complete we cut out an inspection hatch. Now this is mainly for clearing out the nest box when the owls are not breeding. The box was then secured using a pair of small hinges.
A small detail which may have been overlooked is the on the inside of the door on the left side we attached a small brace for the door so that it’s not able to swing back in on it’s self. The door is then secured with the simple twist of the small piece of timber on the outside.
The box is now complete. Not bad considering we used what scrap materials we already had lying around. The box will now be painted a brown colour to match a more natural nesting cavity. I’ll also be attaching a bracket on the outside to hold a trail camera to then monitor any possible residents.
If you enjoyed this blog post and it has inspired you to make your own Little Owl box then follow the link below for the nest box plans by Bob Sheppard :