Perhaps the biggest challenge of having a Screech Owl nesting box (and Screech Owls) in your yard is keeping squirrels out.
Squirrels like to live in owl boxes, and judging from their behavior, you'd think they enjoy annoying humans.
Short of putting your owl box on a pole with a baffle, far from any trees, squirrels will invade the box from time to time -- and try to move in on occasion.
It may be impossible to eliminate squirrels invasions, but you can reduce them.
Click "Continue reading..." or more about squirrel's and Screech owls.
A few somewhat obvious points: If you see a squirrel climbing your nest-box tree or even sitting atop the box (like in the photo at the top of this post), shoo it away.
During Screech-Owl season, roughly February through early June, stop filling any bird feeders you have in your yard. Feeders attract squirrels, and backyards with feeders will have more squirrels -- and more squirrels looking for places to live -- than backyards without feeders.
Baffles/flashing on trees don't seem to stop squirrels, and sooner or later a squirrel will move in.If you see a squirrel bringing leaves into the owl box, evict it immediately and clean out the box of all squirrel nesting materials. Keep repeating this until the squirrel gives up.
If you have a small videocam in your box, you can monitor this far more closely and easily.
When it is the off-season for owls -- mid-June through November -- I tend not to evict the squirrels.
One summer a squirrel had her litter in my screech owl box, and though it was hard to see the babies because of the thicket of nesting materials, I did see the babies from time to time, and it was pretty nifty -- and far more interesting than an empty box.
MORE ON OWLS AND SQUIRRELS ON FRIDAY (Who you callin' a moron?)