your sense of place

Photo © Keith Williams
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Hoot Suite

The leaves are falling and the owls are hooting. During autumn, juveniles disperse and males stand guard on their territories resulting in increased vocalization among the who’s who of the owl world. Now is the time to build and install owl nest boxes or in the case of Great Horned Owls, a nest cone. Find out what owls live in your region and habitat, and download a free plan using our Right Bird, Right House tool.

Try your hand at our easiest project, a Great Horned Owl nest cone. Why a cone? Great Horned Owls are extraordinarily adaptive in their nest site selection. They use old nests such as those of a Red-tailed Hawk or an American Crow, cliffs, deserted buildings, tree snags, and one NestWatcher even reported a nest in her balcony flower pot! They do not need anything fancy and our nest cone mimics an “old” bird nest. These owls are widespread across North America and readily adapt to a range of habitats.

If you decide to create a nest cone, we received some helpful tips from a NestWatcher:

  • Use a plant stand with a 12″ opening to hold the cone during construction.
  • Build a raft-like base at the bottom of the nest cone and secure the base to the sides of the cone with landscaping wire.
  • Create vertical stick “spokes,” (visualize a bike wheel) to use for attaching horizontal sticks.
  • Work your way from the bottom to the top, securing sticks in 6″ segments with landscaping wire.
  • Add loops to the outside of the cone to aid in installation.
  • Have an arborist install the cone! When Great Horned Owls select a tree as their nest site, they prefer to nest at a height of 15-45′ in hardwood trees with at least a 12″ diameter.
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology

    Cornell Lab of Ornithology