In August 1992 we moved into our very rural home. Located on 10 acres surrounded some other homes and thousands of acres of cow pastures and orange groves we started seeing wildlife before our new home was even finished. The red-shouldered hawks were the first to notice our activity. They had several nest trees on the property and made noisy visits to them daily. During the long construction process we had witnessed the hawks building a nest. They had a successful clutch.
Subsequently that same hawks nest was used by a pair of barred owls. We watch with interest as these secretive owls were suddenly visible. When the owlets hatched and started moving about they soon plummeted to the ground. They survived the fall, but they were no where near the age to leave the nest. We scooped them up and found a wicker basket to attach to a tree. The owls seemed excited, but did not attack us (we were lucky.) This basket idea was not successful. And those owlets did not make it.
It was at this point (APPROX 1993) we started researching owl boxes and created owl-box #1. Our design was a very simple birdhouse with an 8 inch hole. We have refined that design, but it did the job for a couple years. It did take years for the owls to notice and start using the box. It was cedar with a solid roof. Later designs have a clear plastic roof.
The owls start selecting a nest site late in the year. If they are returning to the same spot they can start visiting it in September. We have recorded as frequently as one visit per day over a three month period. We consider this part of the nesting season even though the actual egg sitting usually starts in late December to mid-January.
96/97 two owlets (maybe our first year ) in Box #1.
97/98 two owlets Box #1
During the 1997/98 season the original box was again used. Two owlets
99/01 new box in woods Box #2 (never used)
01/02 Owls start in hawks nest, one owlet in Home Depot Whiskey barrel planter.
02/03 two owlets in HD planter
03/04 Yahoogroups list starts in Jan of 04 / First year in Box #3 / 2 Owlets
Back in approximately 2002 I had erected a box within 30 feet of the second floor screened porch. I suspect it was too close and it would never be used by the owls. The owls choose to use this 'up close' box in the winter of 2004. It was great fun watching the two owlets and their parents from up close.
04/05 1 dud egg
The 'Up Close' box was selected again. This was the winter of 2004. We had been experiencing drought, floods and several hurricanes. The echo system was stressed and so were the owls. She laid one egg that failed to hatch. She spent sixty days, double the normal time, and then reluctantly flew off.
05/06 new box (same location)
06/07 two owlets - replaced floor
07/08 new cameras
08/09 Two new Owlets