|Project by rdlaurance||posted 07-23-2011 04:22 PM||2156 views||2 times favorited||19 comments|
Upon reading Martin’s original announcement of the Summer Competition, my initial decision was to forgo the submission of an entry. Already having 10 birdhouses built a few years ago, all presently filled with their respective third broods this summer, by sparrows, great tits and blue tits, I felt no desire to build another. Also as these were simple constructions quickly slapped together for the immediate use of our local feathered natives, they were nothing special that I cared to showcase.
However with the advent of mid-July, I received three clear metaphysical signs, in the same number of days, indicating that I should build a birdhouse for owls. The first sign was when my wife casually mentioned one evening (out-of-the-blue) that she would really like an owl birdhouse made for her birthday (July 23). Owls have always been her favorite bird.
The second sign appeared the following evening. I was exiting the back door on my way out to the studio when I glanced up at the waxing gibbous moon. In the foreground on the gavel end of the barn’s roof, was perched in stark silhouette against the moon’s light, our local ‘kattuggla’ (Tawny Owl- Strix aluco ) that inhabits the little grove of trees nearby. It was such a stereotypical graphic image, I chuckled! Though I had heard the night calls months earlier during the mating/nesting season, I had not seen our little friend since last autumn.
The last mystical sign was the LJ’s e-newletter that MsDebbieP posted the following day (July 14), with one of the first news items stating that two weeks remained for submission of entries to the Summer (bird house) Competition.
OK…. Debbie! ....hit me over the head with a hammer (a soft rubber ball-pien …preferably and need be)... I get the hint(s)!
So after doing a bit of research on the sizes and specifics required by a nesting Tawny Owl, I began construction. All materials were left over scrap from renovating the entire house these last three years (almost finished). The walls, roof and floor are all 1” tongue & grove boards laminated into panels with 1-1/2” battens in all corners for added strength. Additionally, I had discovered an old (antique) packet of 4mm thick larch shakes in the attic, remaining from the original roofing of the house (late 1800’s). From these, I was able to cut small siding shingles for cladding of the exterior walls. This exterior was then stained with an old dark stain (couldn’t read the color label anymore) which gave a better overall appearance.
As baby owls excrete mass quantities of ‘really wet’ poo during their growth, it was necessary to bore many 8mm holes through the bottom floor to aid in drying and air circulation that will cut back on the ammonia stench that can otherwise accumulate. The floor was also sealed with three layers of boat varnish which should aid in cleanout every autumn. For ease of possible future repairs and cleanout, I built a sliding door on one side (disguised as a window), a hinged roof that lifts up and the varnished floor, that can be unlocked and removed from the house.
As any homeowner knows, a roofing gutter system is essential to keep the occasional rain from pouring down one’s back while entering and exiting one’s abode. As such, it is an included amenity.
This house is now ready for immediate occupancy….well… once I hoist it up into the large Ash tree adjoining the garden. Hopefully these future flying critters will keep the voles and mice out of the garden…. just wished they would kill or haul off all the large slimy slugs that tend to congregate there.
After spending 3 hours…. off and on through the day trying to upload four more picture, with no luck (150kb pics using broadband), I’ll try to upload them below (in the Comments section).
-- Rick, south Sweden