Owls aren’t exactly backyard chirpers. You’ll never see them hanging around your bird feeders interacting with chickadees and cardinals because they’re known as solitary and nocturnal. Still, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want to have one of these elegant birds hanging around your yard.
Unlike hawks and falcons, owls aren’t seen as aggressive predators that prey on your beloved backyard birds. Since most owls are nocturnal, they won’t disturb a bird feeders’ regular visitors. In fact, owls are great birds to have coming around your property because they hunt pesky mice and squirrels.
Owls have exploded in popularity over the past few years, especially after they were featured prominently in the Harry Potter series. But, if you’re a true bird lover, you appreciate owls for their unique behavior, expressive eyes and place in nature. Here are a few things you can do to encourage these beautiful birds to come around your yard.
Encourage rodents near your house
Providing ample food for owls is something many people prefer not to do. That’s because owls love to eat rodents, so you’d have to make your home a place more conducive for rodents to live nearby. If you are able to attract owls with rodents, the owls will naturally keep populations low, so you won’t have too much to worry about. To do this, you can leave piles of brush on your yard or have a more natural lawn.
Provide a larger water source
Like any backyard bird, owls need water. While owls don’t typically drink much water from outside sources (most of their water is obtained through their diet), they are known to drink or bathe in bird baths, fountains and even sprinkler systems, especially when it’s hot. Whereas most backyard birds love shallow bird baths, owls are partial toward larger and deeper bird baths.
Put up nesting boxes around your property
Providing shelter to owls is the final element of attracting the birds. You can do this a number of ways. The best way to offer shelter to owls is to leave hollow tree trunks or other natural owl shelters. If you don’t have any on your property, you can get a nesting box. You have to be careful though because owls can be pretty particular. If it’s not waterproof and gets wet inside, an owl will pass it up. Starlings, squirrels and, yes, cats can also easily take over these spaces.
Sometimes an owl will use the box for nesting—which is what it’s actually designed for—but owls tend to be picky. Breeding seasons for owls tend to vary among species. For example, Barn Owls start breeding around late March while Barred Owl start as early as January, so you should look at what species are more prevalent in your area and adjust.