Birds--General/screech owls


I have a problem with gophers in my yard.  I was informed that screech owls are a great way to control gophers.  I got plans on the internet on how to build an owl house, built the house and placed it in my magnolia tree.   I have two elm trees next to the magnolia tree but the elm trees require a lot of grooming, I selected the  magnolia tree for this reason as not to disturb the owl site any more than I have too.  It said in the instructions that there should be an owl in about two months.  After two years there is still no owl.  The size is 17"H X 11"W X 10"D OD. with a 3 inch opening 4" from the top. I made horizontal cuts on the inside as instructed, I also placed about an inch of leaves in the box per instructions,  mounted it NNE direction. The instructions did not state to create a perch so I did not create one.  I live in East San Diego county on 2.5 acres.  there are many birds during the day including a few hawks so I believe there must be some owls in my vicinity.  After two years I did obtain a bee hive, normally I would not mind a bee hive but with the introduction of killer bees I prefer not to take the chance so I got rid of the box.  I just finished building a new box using the same instructions but this time I added a perch, I was told that the bird will not just fly into the box and that a perch is needed.  I also found some sites on the internet stating not to use a perch.  I am confused and not sure where to go.  Do you have any pointers to get me on the right track?

Much appreciated.

Your owl house is fine. Owls are not all that fussy and  perch or no perch is ok. The problem is probably not the house but the habitat. I don't know your exact situation but there may not be enough vegetation or water or food to attract owls or there are competitors. Or there may not be many Screech Owls in your area. I can't give you any specific advice without knowing details. I have had a bat box in my backyard for 10 years and have yet to see a bat use it and it's in an apparently ideal location. So I suspect there is nothing wrong with your owl box. I suggest you talk to your local Audubon Society for advice. Maybe they would come out and take a look. Good luck.


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Roger Lederer


Any and all questions about WILD birds - not caged, domestic or poultry. Can answer questions about identification, taxonomy, behavior, courtship, plumage, flight, or anything else. Wild birds only, please.


Taught ornithology (the study of birds) at the university level for 30 years. Have written five books on birds, published 30 scientific articles, write a blog on birds, have the website, lectured to hundreds of groups on birds,and have traveled to 90 countries studying birds.

A variety of ornithological and conservation organizations.

Real Simple Magazine, Enterprise-Record, and several ornithological and ecological journals.

PhD in Zoology with emphasis in ornithology.

Awards and Honors
Professional Achievement Award, Jack Rawlins Chair of Environmental Literach.

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