Each year my family and the in-laws go to Guntersville Alabama for the Eagle Awareness Weekend. It’s held at Guntersville State Park and we learn about eagles, hawks, owls and various other critters. This past February, a group gave a talk about owls and they challenged the audience to put up screech owl boxes. In fact, they were selling screech owl box kits.
After examining the kits, I decided I could probably build one myself. And that’s exactly what I did, and wallah, another craft tutorial—how to make a screech owl box.
Make a choice on what wood to use. First off, you want to stay away from treated wood. I chose pine simply because I couldn’t find cedar boards that were wide enough. But wood like cedar or cypress naturally resists rot and insect infestation. Pine will not last as long, but I did cover it with three layers of a latex primer paint. Cedar or cypress would not need paint.
Go get some plans. You can easily do an internet search and find a host of different plans. Some of the dimensions will vary, and I used the dimensions below.
Front board — 14.5 in by 8 in wide
Back board — 12 in wide by 26 in
Side boards (2) — 12 in wide by 18in (back edge) 15 in (front edge)
Bottom board — 8 in wide by 12 in
Top board — 12 in by 12 in
(With my dimensions, you can cut each piece of the owl box out of a 1 inch by 12 inch by 10 foot board.)
Measure twice and cut once. I laid out the dimensions on the board and cut the pieces out with a circular saw.
Next, drill four 1/4 in drainage holes in the bottom board of the box.
The plans called for a 3 inch hole. I discovered that the inside diameter of a roll of duct tape is exactly 3 inches, so I used it to trace out the hole. The bottom of the hole comes up 9 inches from the bottom of the front board. Using a saber saw, I cut out the hole. Also, note the 3 — 3/8 in vent holes I drilled above the 3 inch hole.
I used 2 inch deck screws to put the box together. You could use wood glue also for added strength.
Since I used pine for my box, I decided to paint it. I used what I had on hand so I chose a gray primer paint for the base layers and topped it off with some green spray paint. I put on three layers of the gray primer. This is latex based.
To finish the screech owl box, I created some simple stencils that match white oak leaves. Then I used the green spray paint to make the leaf patterns on the box. This and the color combination should help to camouflage the bird house when I mount it to an oak tree.
Mount the screech owl box on a clean, solid tree. Place a couple handfuls of pine shavings or dry leaves into the box for nesting material. Based on the literature I’ve read, they recommend mounting these about 15 feet high. But I say mount them at the height you feel safest or have an experienced person hang the box for you. Mount it in a spot that is easily observable, but not too close to travel ways, play areas, or your house.
And finally, here is a picture of the critter we are trying to attract. Cute, aren’t they? This is a very small owl and you can read more about them at this link.