Saving Babies

New Barn Owl box

The park has a new set of Barn Owl boxes. The old ones, painted in camouflage colors, with a big arched doorway, are gone. The new ones are bare plywood with a round porthole about halfway up the face. Why the change?

“Too many chicks were falling out of the nest, losing their life based on the old design. The new boxes are designed to remedy that,” says Clayton Anderson, Youth Program Manager of the Golden Gate Audubon Society.

Barn Owl Mom 2020

Anderson is correct. I followed the Barn Owl boxes last season (see my short video, “Barn Babies” Oct. 16 2020), and I know that at least three and possibly more chicks fell out of one of the old boxes and perished. They had got out of the nestbox before they could fly. With the new smaller and higher holes, the chicks won’t fall out of the nest accidentally; they’ll have to work to get loose, and if they can manage that, chances are they’ll be grown up enough to fly already.

The hole seems tight for a parent bird, but they’re actually slimmer than they appear when their feathers are puffed out. Mom (and Dad) should have no problem getting in and out.

A hinged flap on the lower right side of the box allows for cleaning.

I’ve got a list of questions in to Anthony DeCicco, Recreation Coordinator of the Shorebird Nature Center and the Adventure Playground, about the history of the old boxes and how the new boxes were designed and built. I hope to have answers soon and will post them here when received.

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One thought on “Saving Babies

  • I’m curious about the parallel grooves below the opening. I’ve always associated them with a ladder of sorts put on the INSIDE of some wooden bird houses to enable the fledglings to climb up to the opening when they’re ready to fledge. I couldn’t think of a reason for them to be on the outside of the box (except to enable a predator of some sort to gain access!), but perhaps it helps the fledglings when they return? I’d love to know the answer, if you or others can inform. Thank you for the post–I was so curious about the new fronts!

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