Who wouldn't want this cute face in their backyard! Find out how to attract Saw-Whet owls and more.

I want Owls in my yard! What exactly makes a “good” owl habitat?

This Eastern Screech Owl would love to make a home near you if there's good habitat and food resources for him! Consider putting up a nest box to encourage these owls to be your neighbor.
This Eastern Screech Owl would love to make a home near you if there’s good habitat and food resources for him! Consider putting up a nest box to encourage these owls to be your neighbor.

It’s not just songbirds that we want to attract – owls are great to want around too! Many owls are in decline due to habitat loss, so learning about owl conservation and wanting to attract them is a great thing!

We want to save them because their populations are declining and they are important parts of the ecosystem. As an apex predator, they help maintain healthy populations of animals that are lower on the food chain.

PA has 8 owl species, however in this article we’ll look at the most common – the Eastern Screech, Great Horned, Northern Saw-Whet, Barred and Barn.

The Eastern Screech Owl lives in a diverse range. They are practically found wherever trees are, no matter if it’s urban or rural (you may have them around and not even know it!), and don’t mind nest boxes that are properly mounted and constructed. This habitat choice makes them great candidates for moving into your yard! To learn about the best nest box for the Eastern Screech Owl, click here.

The Great Horned Owl is even more diverse in its desired habitat than the Screech Owl. It will feel at home in a desert, wetland, forest, grassland, city, or rural backyard! Despite its wide range of habitats, the Great Horned Owl population in the Great Lakes Region is in decline. If that decline continues to spread, we may see a decline in PA populations! For these reasons, attracting them is a good idea. Learn about the best next box for the Great Horned Owl here! (Note- the Great Horned Owl is not a cavity nester, so their “box” looks more like a platform.) . The downside to this larger owl species is that they hunt larger prey. We don’t suggest keeping cats outside (learn why here!), but if that’s what you do, kitty might get snagged as prey if it’s not careful!

The Saw-Whet owl is a cute little guy that most would be thrilled see; however they’re a little pickier with their habitat choice, so we may not see many nesting here in Bucks County. These owls prefer dense evergreen forests, but it this is where you live, by all means – install a nest box! This link will provide you with the ideal construction and placement.

Barred Owls (a little less common in Bucks County) like large mature forests comprised of a variety of tree species and bodies of water. Does your property sit in a wooded lot and has a stream running through it? Maybe you should consider putting up a nest box for this species!

Last but not least, Barn Owls! These owls are somewhat different than the other owls in PA, mainly due to their habitat choice. They thrive on open land such as agricultural fields and meadows. Unfortunately, many of these open spaces are being developed and their population is in steep decline. Fortunately, in Bucks County, there is a lot of undeveloped open space that would be suitable for these pale beauties! In fact, it would be great to have more of these owls as they can eat more than a thousand rodents per year!

To learn more about owls (and see some live!), join Bucks County Audubon Society on January 27th at 7pm for an Owl Prowl & Night Hike. Space for this exciting nighttime event is limited, so be sure to register you and your family early!


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