This guy was hanging around the back yard garden, hunting I presume.   After learning that it’s a Barred Owl, I decided to build him (or her) a home. I studied a bit about Barred Owls and checked out owl box designs on-line. I ended up with my own owl box design recorded in the plans available here.

In two weeks time the fence pickets and ply were cut, glued and nailed into a right big box. It may look small in this pic, buts its hung 45ft high and that’s a 7 inch diameter hole in the front.

Then in late March we got our first glimse of this shy owlet, one of two.


The few piece parts of the box assemble easily using glue and nails. A circular pattern of 1in holes are drilled through the floor to provide ventilation and drainage to the box.

Steel galvanized straps securely hang the box and also provide a strong long lasting joint between roof and back wall.

The perch recommended is a tree branch approximately 2in diameter.

The entire front of the owl box is a door to allow cleanout of the box. Door hinge pins are at the top and locking pins at the bottom.

Welded wire mesh provides a ladder for owlets to climb and reach the opening.

Before hanging the box, I added a bed of wood shavings several inches thick to protect and insulate eggs and owlets. I used a Forstner bit and some scrap lumber to produce the shavings.

I expect the shavings actually did help the owlets survive. Houston hit a record low (10 deg F) in February, right about the time they hatched.

Credit due to photographers:

This photo was taken by Dave Kutilek in my back yard. This Barred Owl is one of the parents of the two owlets born in this year.

This photo was taken by Ron Rathke in my back yard. This Barred Owl is one of the parents of the two owlets born in this year.

This photo was taken by Dave Kutilek in my back yard. This is one of the Barred Owlets born this year in our owl box.

Last spring after the two owlets were born, the back yard became an observatory for our photographer friends and family. Great entertainment watching and listening to them. The parents sound a bit like monkeys with their “who cooks for you” call. Barred owlets on the other hand screech to call their parents in to feed them.



A few noticeable improvements have been made to the design and plans since my build. Waterproof roofing has been added to try and keep occupants dry and postpone degradation of the plywood parts. Also the drip edge detail on back of roof is changed so now only mounting straps contact the tree and the box roofing should shed water without wetting the box. Structurally, the box has been made more rigid by the addition of diagonal slats to box sides. This will limit sagging of the box throughout the years. Perch brace is revised to give the owls and owlets a better grip on the perch.

Hanging the owl box is dangerous and requires a professional. Find a tree guy to do it right and safely. I called Cruz Trees, north of Houston. This is Domingo Cruz climbing 45ft (without spikes) to hang my Barred Owl Box.

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