How to build an owl nest

Owls are fun to watch and many species need our help. One of the best ways we can help owls is by creating habitat for them. Below you’ll find instructions for how you and your family can build an owl nest for larger owl species such as great horned owls.

  • Construct a cone from a 1 m square piece of chicken wire. Start by cutting from one corner to the centre and then overlap the two cut edges until the cone is approximately 0.5 m deep. Hold the cone together, using pliers to bend the cut ends of chicken wire around the overlying wire.
  • Line the cone with a 1 m square piece of tar paper. Cut from one corner to the centre of the tar paper, folding it into a cone that fits perfectly inside the chicken wire structure. Cut a drain hole in the bottom.
  • Build a stick nest inside the cone with twigs, leaves, and branches. Hold the nesting material together by interweaving it with the slender, flexible branches of shrubs and trees, such as dogwood and willow. Use these branches to weave the nesting material firmly into the chicken wire through the tar paper. Place the finished cone in the crotch of a tree 4.5 to 6.5 m above ground. Use strong wire to secure the structure in place.
  • The cone should be in place by fall, as owls choose nesting sites during winter.

These instructions appeared in the fall 2018 issue of NatureWILD magazine. Get more nest building info from the Canadian Wildlife Federation here.

Image credit: R. Melnyk

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