Bird of Prey Nest Box ● Simple Ways to Attract Owls and Kestrels to Your Yard

Bird of Prey Nest Box ● Simple Ways to Attract Owls and Kestrels to Your Yard

Setting up a bird of prey nest box in your yard gives you a fantastic way to see uncommon birds up close!

With the right bird of prey nest box, you could have an owl or kestrel nesting near your home. And in the spring, you might even see some hatchlings peeking out of your bird of prey nest box!

Keep reading to find out which types of birds you could attract!


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Many types of owls live in tree cavities. And if they can’t find a tree cavity, these birds of prey are happy to live in a nest box.

Different kinds of owls live all throughout the US, and it’s relatively easy to attract them to your yard. Although owls typically hunt at night, you may see them at twilight or occasionally during the day too!

And they’ll keep your yard free from pests like moles, voles, and mice.

While you’ll probably need a larger, more rural area to attract barn owls, screech owls will nest in suburban areas! 

Screech owls actually seem to prefer neighborhoods because lots more prey is available and there are fewer predators. 

Which owls use nest boxes?

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In the US alone, 10 different types of owls use nest boxes- including barn owls!

Barn owls, barred owls, boreal owls, eastern screech owls, elf owls, ferruginous pygmy owls, flammulated owls, northern pygmy owls, northern saw-whet owls, and western screech owls use nest boxes.

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Great horned owl

Great gray owls and great horned owls use nesting platforms.

What direction should an owl box face?

Different owls prefer their owl boxes to face different directions:

  • Barn owl- any direction
  • Barred owl- any direction 
  • Boreal owl- any direction 
  • Eastern screech owl- any direction
  • Elf owl- north or northwest 
  • Ferruginous pygmy owls- any direction
  • Flammulated owls- any direction
  • Northern pygmy owls- any direction
  • Northern saw-whet owls- south 
  • Western screech owls- south or east

More owl nest box tips 

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Screech owls, which are about the size of mourning doves, live in nest boxes!

Different types of owls prefer nest boxes at different heights and in certain habitats. 

Nest Watch has great information about where to place your nest box to attract different species of owls.

Where can I get an owl nest box?

You can purchase an owl nest box online or build one yourself. Here are some different options. 

Amazon- JC’s Wildlife Barn Owl Nest Box

This made in the USA plywood barn owl nest box is perfect for those with the room to put it up. Barn owls are big, so they need a big place to build their nests.

This one comes with a cleanout door so you can remove any old nesting materials each winter.

Plus the nest box has some handy features that I couldn’t do myself if I built my own, like grooves on the front to help the adult get in and out of the box. And vent holes along the top.

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Barn owls are pretty big, so their nest boxes are quite large!

You may want to purchase your own hardware for mounting this monstrosity. And bring a friend to install it- this owl house weighs about 50 pounds. Getting it to the 12-20 feet recommended height will probably require a ladder.

Last of all, you may wish to paint or treat the outside of this box for additional weatherproofing. But painting the interior could deter owls.

Nest boxes make great gifts for backyard birdwatchers!

Amazon- Woodlink Screech Owl and Kestrel nest box 

This high-quality, made in America cedar nest box comes at the correct dimensions for a kestrel or screech owl to live in. And the front is hinged so you can easily access it for cleaning. 

The downsides: you’ll likely need to purchase heftier and longer screws to attach it to a tree or pole. And you may want to drill some small holes in the bottom for drainage. Finally, painting, coating, or sealing the outside of the box will help protect it from the weather and make it last longer. Painting the inside could deter owls from nesting there, however.

If you’d like two of these owl houses, use this link to Amazon for a discount! 

This house may also attract saw-whet owls

Raptors Inc Screech Owl Nest Box

You can purchase a pine or cedar screech owl nest box from Raptors Inc here. The proceeds go to rehabilitating injured raptors 

Amazon- Barred Owl Nest Box 

This nest box features the dimensions that a barred owl needs, a 7 inch opening and overall size of at least 13 x 13 x 23 inches.

It has some nice features, like a hinged door so you can clean the nest out  each winter. And grooves near the entrance hole to help the adult owls perch outside. 

The mounting kit has a clever design so you can easily mount the nest box on a live tree, like barred owls prefer.

The box is sealed with linseed oil, which is safe for birds. However, you may wish to paint or seal the outside, especially the roof, to make the box last longer.

How do I build an owl nest box?

Nest Watch offers free plans for owl nest boxes and platforms.

They also have detailed information about where to place your bird of prey nest box to attract the right residents. 


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The colorful, blue-jay sized American kestrel nests in nest boxes!

Unlike owls, hawks hunt during the day, so you may see them more often if you’re fortunate enough to have one nest in your yard. 

Like owls, hawks eat rodents like voles, mice, and moles, which is a nice benefit thi having a hawk nest box! 

Do hawks nest in boxes?

No, hawks do not nest in boxes

However, American kestrels, which are a type of falcon, as well as some owl species nest in boxes.

Do hawks use birdhouses?

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No, hawks do not use birdhouses. 

But several types of owls, as well as the American kestrel nest in birdhouses, also called nest boxes.

Kestrel nesting box

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Young kestrels peeking out of their nest box

If you’d like to set up a kestrel nesting box in your yard, you’ll need a lone tree or a pole between 10 and 30 feet high. These birds of prey prefer nest boxes facing south or east in open woodlands, grasslands, or towns.

Amazon- Woodlink Screech Owl and Kestrel nest box 

This cedar kestrel nest box is great. It’s just the right size for American kestrels and has a clean out door so you can remove debris every winter. 

It’s also made in the USA and comes with wood shavings that you can use to line the bottom of the box.

However, you’ll probably want to use your own mounting hardware as the screws included with this kit might not be sturdy enough to mount it to a tree.

Hawk nesting boxes at Raptors Inc

You can also buy a pine or cedar kestrel nest box from Raptors Inc here. The proceeds go to rehabilitating injured raptors 

Build your own kestrel house

Nest Watch offers free plans for building your own kestrel nest box

More information about bird of prey nest boxes

The Friends of Hopewell Valley, NJ, set up 50 kestrel nest boxes in 2019. In 2021, kestrels were nesting in at least 9 of them! You can read more on the Friends of Hopewell Valley website.

Your patience will pay off. In Massachusetts, it took 7 years for kestrels to start breeding in this nest box. But they’ve returned every year since and had 2-5 babies each year.

Hawk nesting box plans

You can find hawk nesting box plans for kestrels at Nest Watch

It is important for a kestrel nesting box to have a 3 inch diameter entrance hole, be at least 14 inches tall, 10 inches deep, and 11 and ¾ inches across.

Hawk nesting platforms

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Fledgeling ospreys on their nesting platform

Most hawks build nests in trees. But some will also build their nests on human-made structures, like cell phone towers, billboard platforms, and the tops of buildings.

If you set up a hawk nesting platform in your yard, a hawk might build a nest there!

It’s definitely harder to attract a hawk to the platform. However, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and ospreys may decide to nest there. More facts about the red-tailed hawk and their nesting habits.

Birdhouses 101 has some nice plans and information about building your own hawk nesting platform.

More Resources on Bird of Prey Nest Boxes

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