The next time you take a hike at Boulevard Woods Park, make sure you look up from time to time. High up in a tree along the trail you might be able to spot a newly installed owl house.
The house was built by Bruce Travis, a Boulevard neighborhood resident. He constructed the house–which is intended to attract barred owls–according to the Audubon Society’s latest recommendations.
Bruce, who is a capable carpenter, added a few refinements designed to improve the durability of the house and to keep it clean and dry. And he devised a simple, secure yet flexible attachment method that relies on gravity, two small spikes and a chain which minimized impact on the tree and allows it to grow without having to reposition the house.
Getting the house up high on the tree required other skills–and those were donated by Shawn Doonan and Art Morris of New Urban Forestry, a local tree service and landscaping company. They hoisted the house up and put in place in about an hour on June 26, 2018.
Why, you may ask, do owls need human-built houses when they can build their own nests?
According to Bruce and the Audubon Society, the short answer is that making it easier and safer for owls to nest (which the house does) improves the odds that they’ll stay around. Especially in urbanized areas where natural habitat–including, crucially, lots of large dead standing trees–is harder to find, owls can use the assist. Keeping these beautiful, strange, wild creatures among us–with their evocative calls and their predatory elan (which helps balance other animal populations)–is a mutually beneficial project.
Bruce plans to build more bird–and possibly bat–houses for the park, and New Urban Forestry has generously offered to install them.
Photos by Jessie McClellan of New Urban Forestry.