How to Care for Your Box
There are responsibilities involved, especially with Barn Owl boxes. These include:
Annual cleaning out of the Barn Owl box within a narrow window of time (October-December).
How to clean your owl box.IMPORTANT:
Owl box cleaning should be done between mid-October and before the end of November to be assured that nesting season is complete, or has not yet begun. An easy way to remember: Clean the barn owl box between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Tools needed: rubber gloves, facemask, trowel or other scraping tool (a pry bar with a hammer works well), trash bag or box, drill or other tool to open screws on clean out flap,extra screws.
Always have a helper to hold the ladder steady, and to stand by while you are at the box.
An owl may be roosting (sleeping) in your box, so try to peek into the box through the front entrance hole. If you see an owl, retreat quietly and remove the ladder. But if the owl flies out, just go ahead and clean the box. For this reason it is best to do the cleaning in late afternoon, if at all possible.
Wear a mask and gloves. Owls create pellets of bones and fur that they regurgitate daily into the owl box. It might sound gross, but the pellets actually create a dry "carpet" that is soft and warm for the eggs to be laid on. This "carpet" can become quite hardened, so that when you go to clean it out, it will be like cement stuck to the bottom of the box!
Once the clean-out flap and the top of the box are open, use your scraper to loosen up the "carpet" inside. If the "carpet" is very hard and stuck to the bottom, try wedging the pry bar between the bottom of the "carpet" and the box,then use a hammer to get it as far under as possible. Then begin pushing the carpet up. If all goes well, the carpet may come lose in one large chunk, greatly reducing your cleaning time. Scrape the carpet and all other debris into the trash bag, or box. You will get a good look at the remains of what your owls have been eating! You will likely find loose bones and possibly the desiccated remains of prey. There may be some live insects in the box, usually beetles and the occasional maggot. But on the whole, it should be quite dry with few insects. Sometimes wasps nest in the boxes, these can be removed without the use of poisons, please call us for advice. Other creatures sometimes use the boxes if unoccupied by owls during summer, so some nesting material might be found. This can be removed. If you find the remains of any owls, please contact us before disposing of them.
After getting as much debris as possible out of the box (making sure to clear the drainage holes in the bottom), close and secure the flap. Do not leave any material inside the box—the owls will take care of creating a new "carpet." Take a look at the box and see if it is in need of any repair - does it still look water resistent? There are no gaps between the pieces of wood and the coat of sealant still looks fresh? If it has rained recently and the box looks wet inside it may need to be taken down and repositioned away from prevailing winds.
Close the trash bag or box and place in a trash receptacle. Repair any damage or wear that has occurred. Now your box is ready and waiting for a new owl family! Thank you for completing this important, task!