As part of our conservation role, Puget Sound Bird Observatory is helping to provide safe alternatives to natural cavities by installing owl nest boxes specifically sized for Western Screech-owls and Northern Saw-whet owls.
The goal of this project is to provide safe alternatives to tree cavities by installing nest boxes specifically sized for Western Screech Owls and Northern Saw Whet Owls.
Western Screech-owl, Megascops kennicottii, and Northern Saw-whet owl, Aegolius acadicus, were once fairly common in the Pacific Northwest, but birders have noted – and available survey counts confirm – that populations of both species are in decline. Speculation on the reasons for decline center on three likely causes: predation by larger owls, competition for cavities with other cavity nesting birds, and habitat loss.
According to Newton, “The breeding densities of many bird-species which nest in tree cavities are in some areas limited by shortage of sites. This is evident from circumstantial evidence in which the numbers of breeding pairs in different areas correlate with the numbers of local nest sites, or where changes in the numbers of nest sites resulting from natural processes or human action are followed by changes in the numbers of pairs. When nest boxes were provided, they were often occupied in the same year, leading to an immediate rise in breeding density. This implied that surplus birds were available in the vicinity and able to take them up.” (Newton, 1994 Biological Conservation, Volume 70, Issue 3, Pages 265-276, The role of nest sites in limiting the numbers of hole-nesting birds: A review).
Small Owl Box kits are available from PSBO or we can provide a constructed box for interested participants with appropriate habitat for installation. Suitable habitat for these small owls includes open deciduous and mixed woodlands. We ask a small donation of $20.00 per kit/box and would appreciate feedback on whether or not the placement results in a successful occupancy. To inquire about a box, please contact Cindy Easterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (425) 876-1055.