7 Simple & Proven Ways To Attract Owls To Your Yard

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Owls are beautiful birds that feed on mice and other small rodents crawling in your yard. Most people attach decoy owls to keep these rodents away. Now imagine how effective it would be if you have real owls in your yard. 

Unfortunately, these birds are not the easiest to attract, but it’s not impossible. You only need to make sure that you provide them with: 

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter

It’s also essential to keep the lights off and keep your pets inside. 

Mainly, it’s almost the same as attracting small birds. However, if you’re attracting owls, you wouldn’t want to attract the small birds, too, as they would mainly become food for these raptors. 

In this article, I’ll share seven simple and proven ways how to attract owls to your yard. I’ll also discuss: 

  • How to know when you’ve attracted owls
  • Why attract owls

So, if you’re interested to know these, let’s dive into the article… 

Tip #1: Give Them Food

image of an owl hunting a rabbit
Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

Like many birds, owls will go to your yard if you provide them food. But unlike other smaller birds, these birds won’t settle for bird seeds, fruits, or nectar. 

These majestic birds belong to a group of birds called “Birds of Prey”. They are strictly carnivorous, which means they mainly eat animal material from very small insects to bigger rodents and even birds. 

Owls also prefer that their prey is alive before eating them. And one way you can ensure that you provide owls with food is by making your yard insect and rodent-friendly. 

Related Article: How Do Owls Hunt?

I know, it sounds worrisome. Who even wants to attract mice and insects, right? 

But, even if you attract them, they wouldn’t be much of a problem because the owls can take care of them for you. 

So, if you think you’re okay with this idea, here are some of the best ways to make your yard more rodent and insect-friendly: 

Don’t Clean Too Much

leaf pile to attract rodents and owls
Image by Marta Wave from Pexels

One thing that attracts rodents the most is the mess in your yard. This serves as their home or hiding place. So, if you’re planning to clean up, make sure that there are still messy areas. 

Here’s what I recommend: 

  • Create a brush pile 
  • Don’t clean up leaf litter and fallen sticks. 

The brush pile will serve as a home for rabbits, mice, and other animals, while the fallen leaves will serve as a home for many insects, spiders, slugs, and other bugs. 

Don’t Mow Your Whole Yard

Long, tall grasses are another hiding area for animals. And if you mow your yard too much, they won’t be too pleased. 

If possible, leave an area where you can let the grass grow. Probably one that is away from your neighbor’s line of sight. Or you can set up your landscape, so it looks beautiful even with some tall grasses growing. 

Don’t Use Insecticides or Pesticides

Again, you don’t want to get rid of insects and rodents in your yard using pesticides if you want to attract owls. These are poisons and would likely kill potential food for the birds. 

And if you think that this is okay because at least they’re dead and then the owl can just pick them up, you’re wrong. 

Owls can easily get poisoned if they eat poisoned food. At the same time, your own pets can fall victim to poisoning, too. So, the best thing you can do is simply avoid using it. 

Grow Some Native Plants

image of couple growing native plants to attract owls
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Even if owls don’t eat plants, insects and rodents still do. So, grow some plants native in your area to attract native animals, too. 

Tip #2: Give Them Water

Water is a basic need by every living creature, and that includes the owls. So, other than food, make sure you have a water source near your yard, too. 

A pond or a stream is most ideal. But if you don’t have those two nearby, you can set up a birdbath. I highly recommend using a heated birdbath so that the owls can still come and drink even during the colder months. 

Having a water source can also help attract animals that can be an owl’s target too. 

If possible, set up a water source where the water is moving. Perhaps a fountain or a waterfall type of pond. This will help animals nearby know that there’s water in your place and they’ll surely come for a visit. 

Related Article: Definitive Guide To Buying Birdbaths

Tip#3: Install An Owl Nesting Box

image of an owl perched in front of owl nesting box
Image by Eleanor Crook from Unsplash

If you want owls to stay in your yard, you can’t provide only food and water. You need to make sure that they have a place to stay. 

For this, you can install an owl nesting box in one of the trees in your yard. But don’t just set up any kind of nesting box. 

Try to know what kind of owls live in your area. You can do this by listening closely at night for owl sounds. 

You can also try calling them using their own owl sounds to confirm. And then do your research as to what kind of nest box you should make. How big should it be, what materials should you use, and how high up in a tree (ideally around 10-12 feet from the ground). 

For example, you want to attract screech owls, and you figured that they don’t build nests. So, after making a nest box, scatter some wood shavings inside to serve as their cushion for their eggs. 

Also, before installing the nest box, try to find an area where you don’t mind any owl pellets or poop droppings on the ground. 

Tip #4: Grow Big Trees

Trees serve as birds’ shelter and cover against possible predators and harsh weather conditions. As for owls, they love big trees. Trees make it easy for them to use their big owl eyes to see their surroundings. Plus, it’s easier to camouflage and hunt food, resembling their natural habitat

Unfortunately, growing big trees is not easy. It takes years before one grows the exact height an owl would love. 

But, if you do have big trees around you, then you’re in luck. 

So, don’t cut them down, even the dead ones. If they’re not posing any safety hazards, let them stand as they can still serve as good nesting cavities. Branches are also very important as it gives owls a comfortable area to perch. 

But of course, if you want to add more trees, don’t stop yourself from growing one. Even if you won’t see it grow big, future generations would, especially if they become a bird watcher like you.  

Tip#5: No Lights 

owl at night
Image by Federico Di Dio photography from Unsplash

Although there are daytime owls, most owls are active at night, and they certainly won’t appreciate any lights.

You can use timers to ensure that at a particular hour, all backyard lights would turn off. You can also do this manually before you go to bed. This way, the owls can freely roam at night without any disturbance. 

Tip#6: Keep Pets Inside

Apart from the lights, owls also don’t appreciate any type of noise. 

So, if you have pets, keep them inside. Your dog’s barks can scare away an owl’s prey easily, and it can cause your visitors to hunt somewhere else. 

If you have cats, it’s crucial to keep them inside. Cats can be curious, and they can also hunt and kill any small animals in your yard. On top of that, they can also become potential prey for larger owls like the Great Horned Owl. 

Tip #7: Be Patient

Lastly, be patient. 

As mentioned from the beginning of this article, owls are tough to attract. After all, they weren’t described as mysterious for nothing. 

But don’t give up. 

Continue making an effort to make your yard attractive to them, and perhaps one day, you’ll have owls flying in your yard every year. 

How To Know When You’ve Attracted Owls

As owls are nocturnals, they most probably come to your yard when you’re sleeping. So, it’s really hard to know when they’ve visited. 

One trick I advise you is to familiarize yourself with owl sounds. This way, you know that one is nearby, and there’s a big possibility that they’re coming over to your yard. 

If you’ve installed nest boxes, you can probably install a camera nearby, too. This way, you can see if owls are nesting there already. 

Final Thoughts On Attracting Owls To Your Yard

Many who have seen owls would agree that these birds are a sight to behold. But there’s more to owls than their looks, and that’s why people love having them in their backyard. If you’re one of those people, the seven tips above can significantly help. 

Again, these birds are not the easiest to attract. But once they found your place and have considered it safe, you’ll surely be expecting several owl visitors every year.