Great Horned Owl at Nest Box – Human Made Nests Are Helping Birds

/, Birds, Davis County, Great Horned Owls, Utah/Great Horned Owl at Nest Box – Human Made Nests Are Helping Birds

Great Horned Owl nest boxGreat Horned Owl nest box – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/125, ISO 500, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There are a couple of owl nest boxes at the hay barn on Antelope Island State Park and over the years I have seen both Barn and Great Horned Owls use those nest boxes to rear their young. The nest boxes aren’t pretty and that is because they don’t need to be and some people feel that the unnatural setting isn’t ideal for bird photography because of that. I know I have felt that way in the past but I’m changing my thoughts on that because…

Those unappealing nest boxes are helpful for the owls, they provide a safe place to lay their eggs, incubate them and to rear their young to fledging. Human made nest boxes, nest baskets, birdhouses, nest shelves and nest platforms can and do help many species of birds in all types of habitats.

When I lived in Virginia I had a metal shed at the back of my garden and one of the doors to the shed never closed tightly, one day I went out into the shed and found a Carolina Wren nesting in my motorcycle helmet, it kind of ruined the helmet but I enjoyed know the wren was using the helmet to rise her chicks. After that nesting season I went out and purchased an unglazed terracotta bird nest “jar” that looked like this one here and installed it below the flower box at my kitchen window and for years and years the Carolina Wrens used it to raise their young.

I couldn’t see the nest from the kitchen but it always made me feel good that I had provided them with a safe place for them to raise their young.  I also had bluebird boxes and wooden nest boxes that a variety of birds & flying squirrels used. I lived way out in the country in Virginia and really enjoyed watching all the birds that came to my yard. I wasn’t a bird photographer at the time but now I wish I had been back then.

I left snags standing in my yard and garden for the woodpeckers and they excavated cavities that other birds would use, woodpeckers are primary cavity nesters and other birds called secondary cavity nesters use those nests later on. But we humans often pull those old trees down because we don’t like how they look or they present safety issues. I remember feeling awful that I had to use my Jeep Cherokee to pull down a poplar snag one winter because it was eventually going to crash onto my fence, while I pulled that snag down I kept thinking that I was removing a “potential” home for the birds and I felt awful about that. Here it is nearly twenty years later and I still feel bad for taking down that snag.

There are a lot of bird lovers out there though that are providing safe nesting places by constructing nesting platforms, nesting shelves, nest baskets and nest boxes to provide safe nesting locations for owls, ducks, wrens, geese, swallows, bluebirds, flickers, kestrels, wading birds, eagles, ospreys, flycatchers, warblers, chickadees, nuthatches and many other species of birds.

Are they always pretty? No, but as I mentioned above they don’t need to be and the birds don’t care about aesthetics their only need is for a safe place to rear their young.

Life is good.


Building Nesting Boxes & Platforms (A nice site that can help people select the best man made nest for location and species)

I know there are many other links I could share but I am running out of time this morning.


  1. Laura Culley February 13, 2018 at 9:33 am

    Personally, I hate it that we humans want the world to be tidy and clean. It’s our incessant need to control our environment. Hello!! Nature just isn’t tidy and clean and we need to learn to go with it!
    When I lived in Dallas, there was an old tree that reached 70 or 80 feet into the sky, but near its base, about five feet up, there was a horizontal crook in it that ran about three feet before the tree straightened out and grew upward again. For years and years, that crook had held up that old oak that was host to a bunch of different families from screech owls to red-bellied woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, wrens, squirrels and who knows who else. I can’t tell you how many people wanted that tree torn down (mostly landscapers who would make a killing doing the deed), but my ex wasn’t about to spend that money and he was way too lazy to even think about it, which was one of the things I like about him. When he finally sold the house (he’d owned it for a couple of decades), the first thing the new owners did was to fell that tree and that saddened me beyond words. So many homes lost.
    I think what angers me most is that it’s not like birds need 20 years to get their kids out of the house and on their own, is it? Patience human, patience!!

  2. Patty Chadwick February 13, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Always love your text as much as your pictures…both informative and interesting…since we do so much to make things difficult for birds and other wildlife, helping them in any way we can is the thing to do. Great image of GHO!!!

  3. Liz Cormack February 13, 2018 at 7:36 am

    We had an old snag at the local nature area. It was full of holes from Red-bellied Woodpeckers and I suspect, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Then one day it was just gone. At least they waited until the fledglings had taken off. Still, it was upsetting to see it gone.

  4. Bob mcpherson February 13, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Wonderful photo, Mia

  5. April Olson February 13, 2018 at 7:17 am

    With all the negatives for wildlife man has caused I think we need to help when we can.

  6. Kim February 13, 2018 at 6:31 am

    So beautiful!

  7. Terry Orme February 13, 2018 at 6:11 am

    I am a new reader of your blog. I look forward to it every morning.

  8. Mary February 13, 2018 at 6:01 am

    Thanks Mia! Love knowing about the terra cotta jar — what a great gift for weeks!

    • Mary February 13, 2018 at 6:02 am

      For WRENS

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