Attracting Owls To You Yard Or Garden - Our Tips
If you have ever wondered how to attract owls to your backyard, then search no further. These wise creatures are ultra-compelling for a number of reasons, and not just because they're beautiful, unusual birds.
In this article, we'll discuss how to attract owls to your backyard. We'll even touch on some tiny details you've probably never considered before. So before you try to attract owls on your own, dig in and find out all you'll need to know--and more!
Why Attract Owls?
Before we dive into the different ways to attract owls to your yard, let's take a look at some of the reasons you might be interested in having these wild animals around. The two primary reasons for bringing most owls to your backyard are:
- bird-watching enjoyment (our favorite!)
- maintaining a healthy rodent population (yes, please!)
Here's a bit more about each.
Owls are both mysterious and magnificent birds. And their nocturnal behavior, mournful calls, large eyes, and silent flight make them unlike any other backyard birds we usually see. And that's why it's so gratifying to attract these mostly nocturnal birds to our yards.
Another excellent reason for having owls in your backyard is because they are a great alternative to traditional pesticides. Owls can help control any of the following pests in your backyard:
- Ground squirrels
- Large insects
- Other rodents
Which Owls Can You Attract?
There are nineteen different species of owls in the country. Here are some of the different owls you might attract.
Western Screech Owls
The Western Screen Owl is found in the western region of North America, as its name would suggest. They are small owls and, at full-grown size, stand no taller than a pair of binoculars. Attract these owls to your yard with a wide range of owl food like bats, rats, crayfish, worms, and other small mammals.
Great Horned Owls
The Great Horned Owls are known for their intense yellow eyes and long, earlike tufts. Even though this kind of owl is on the larger side, it prefers small animals as a meal, such as frogs, mice, or scorpions. The Great Horned Owl is one of the most common owl species to be found in North America and can be found in nearly any habitat with a steady food source that is owl friendly.
Eastern Screech Owls
These nighttime raptors are smaller birds, no bigger than a pint glass. These small birds are found east of the Rocky Mountains everywhere from parks to suburbs to the woods. These owls are well camouflaged, so they will even visit well-lit yards and hide in the nooks of a dead tree or other live tree cavities to stay concealed.
The barred owl was originally only found in the eastern United States, but today has spread as far as California and the Pacific Northwest. These birds have brown and white striped plumage with deep brown eyes. While many owls have hooting calls, the barred owl is known for its signature "who cooks for you" call.
The barn owl is medium-sized with short tails and long, rounded wings. At night, the barn owl looks all white, but you will see that they are mostly pale with dark eyes in the light.
How to Attract Owls
Now that you have a better idea of what to look out for in your natural spaces, it's time to get into how to tempt owls to the backyard habitat you set up.
Like other birds, owls rely on four basic needs: food, water, shelter, and a roost nearby. Here are a few ways to help provide these necessary resources to owls.
1. Keep Dead Trees Around
Aside from climate, other environmental factors contribute to an owl's likelihood to create nesting sites in your backyard. For example, some owls might prefer open prairies or grasslands, while others prefer deciduous trees, bare branches, or other natural materials to call home.
While you might be trying to get rid of dead or old, mature trees in your backyard, think again if you are trying to promote nesting owls. As long as keeping the tree does not put you or your family in danger, it might help to make your backyard more appealing to owls. Keep your dead trees intact, and consider setting up a nesting box there where owls live happily.
2. Keep Your Lights Off
It's no secret that owls are primarily nocturnal. As you can imagine, bright lights are not particularly attractive to owls and other birds. Their eyes and ears have evolved over time to make them excellent hunters of other animals in the dark.
Having bright exterior lights will take away an owl's advantage of natural stealth and also disrupt their natural hunting habits.
3. Keep Your Grass Long
Rodent populations are keen on longer grass and other plants native to the area. So, whether you're looking for an excuse to skip mowing this week or are looking to attract other wildlife, keep your grass long and remember, it's for the owls.
4. Start Building a Brush Pile
In addition to long grass, accumulating brush piles is also a great idea. Collect your leaf litter in one area of your backyard. You'll quickly find that hunting owls will be very interested in seeking out whatever little critters might decide to call this area home.
5. Consider Installing an Owl Box
Installing nest boxes, or owl houses, is an excellent way for attracted owls to find a new home in your backyard. While cavity nesting owls seek out dead trees or other natural hollows, you can purchase or make your owl nesting box to promote inhabitance.
Location of Your Owl Box is Key
It's all about location, location, location, even when it comes to your nest box for your owls. Keep in mind that adult owls will only visit areas where they feel safe, so the positioning of your nest box will be critical.
Here are a few pointers on how to position your owl box to their benefit:
- South-facing for warmth
- Stability against wind
- Protection from predators
- Spot facing away from winds
Keep Starlings Out of Your Owl Box
The European starling is notorious for taking over screech owl boxes well before the owls have even scoped it out. Especially in the beginning, keep a close eye on your owl box to ensure other birds are not taking over.
Here are a few tips to avoid a sterling problem in your owl box:
- Place nesting sites in a wooded area
- Avoid open areas
- Monitor box for signs of use
- Scatter two to three inches of nesting material inside to keep it owl friendly
6. Welcome Rodents
Although it's not always ideal to have rodents in your backyard, they're quite helpful if you're looking to bring more owls to your outdoor space. Adding a brush pile to your backyard will help attract rodents and, therefore, hunt owls with them. You can place your brush pile as far away from your home as possible in an effort to keep the rodents from entering your home.
Most owls will prey on rodents which means having these little critters populating a brush pile can allow it to serve as a bird feeder for an owl.
7. Install a Large Bird Bath
Owls aren't necessarily known for frequently visiting birdbaths, but they still need a place to get water and bathe. Especially during warmer months of the year, you'll find that more oversized bird baths might become popular amongst the owls of your backyard. Make sure that your birdbath is owl-friendly, though, and at least two inches deep.
Related: 10 Unique, Homemade Bird Bath Ideas
8. Create a Welcoming Perching Spot
The owl likes to have an area to watch its prey, so providing a perching spot will encourage them to stop by more frequently in your yard. Safe perches for owls include:
- Old trees
9. Forego Recorded Owl Sounds
You might think that prerecorded owl sounds are an excellent way to lure the birds, but the sounds can actually agitate the birds. Stick to the other methods of bringing owls to your yard and avoid any recorded sounds.
Things to Consider When Attracting Owls
If you are wondering how to attract owls, you can simply follow the steps listed above. But, in doing so, there are other factors you need to be mindful of as well.
Owls Hunt Your Small Pets
Keep your pets inside. Especially if you have small pets, whether they be cats, dogs, or pet rodents, these hunting owls can catch the eye of a hungry predator. Remember that owls are wild animals and can be very aggressive. It's always better to be safe when attracting owls, than sorry.
Remove Any Netting
Owls can easily get tangled up in netting, so if you want to attract owls, make sure you are doing everything in your power to protect them at the same time. Remove any type of netting like:
- Basketball hoop netting
- Hockey nets
- Soccer nets
Make Safety a Priority
If you want to attract owls to your backyard, make sure you are doing so in a way that keeps you, your family, and the birds safe.
Will Owls Be Safe in Your Area?
According to the Owl Research Institute, you should always ask yourself if attracting owls is safe for your area. If you're unsure, you can ask yourself these questions:
- Can anything in the local environment harm the birds?
- Do you use rodenticide chemicals?
- Are there farms nearby that use potentially harmful chemicals?
- Are there are a lot of high-speed roadways near you?
What to Do if Owls Will Be Safe in Your Area
If you answer any of the questions with a yes, you might want to reconsider attracting owls to your area. Instead, look up sites you can visit owls in their natural habitat.
What to Do if Owls Will Not Be Safe in Your Area
If you answered all of the questions above with no, the birds would likely be safe in your area. You should feel free to move forward with determining effective methods to attract the birds to your backyard.
Which Owls Are in Your Area
To help you focus your efforts on which owl species to attract, you can rely on the Owl Species ID Guide that the Owl Research Institute has created.
Observe From a Distance
Much like you would with traditional bird feeders when it comes to owls, always observe them from a distance. They can be aggressive birds, so it's best to enjoy them from afar. After all, they are wild, and the last thing you want is a mother owl coming after you during nesting season. Ideally, you want to keep enough distance from the owl you are observing so that they do not notice your presence whatsoever.
About Happy Gardens
When all else fails, and you can't attract the owls you were hoping for, it might be time to consider adding some owl decor to your garden. Consider some of the unique pieces from the Happy Gardens collection, like this Stenciled Owl Garden Statue, Duo Owl Wall Decor piece, Owls with Bells Garden Stake, or Owl with Bell Garden Stake.
If you've been searching for unique and thoughtful garden pieces and merchandise, great for all outdoor spaces, the Happy Gardens online collection should be the first place on your list to check out. So, whether you've been looking to fill your owl fix or find bird baths sure to attract the birds, look no further. Each item you'll come across on our site has been handcrafted with love with none other than your happiness in mind.
Not only are all of our beloved products near and dear to us, but they are also top-rated. We offer a wide variety of special collections, including everything from eye-catching spinners, artistic and functional birdhouses, unique garden ornaments and so much more. Keep an eye out for some of our favorite pieces as you peruse our collection, searching for your own.
Our collection of ornate garden pieces is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of garden goodies we have to offer. We've also recently launched a brand new line of merchandise. For some exciting gifts readily available year-round to choose from, check out our Happy Gardens merchandise line. Best of all, these items are perfect for any occasion and include the cutest coffee mugs, wine glasses, and tote bags for you and your fellow garden enthusiasts.
You can stay up to date on the latest and greatest happenings at Happy Gardens by joining our mailing list. Simply enter your name and email address, and you can immediately look forward to limitless fun paired with a side of gardening tips and tricks. For even more garden inspiration in your newsfeed, you can also give us a follow us on Instagram and Facebook!
So if you're wondering how you can pick the perfect garden pieces to encourage owls to visit your garden, try asking one of us via chat. After all, here at Happy Gardens, we're happy to help!