Attracting Owls: Creating a Nocturnal Wildlife Garden

Wildlife gardens are an excellent way to both enhance the natural environment and attract beautiful and interesting animals.

In particular, creating a nocturnal wildlife garden is a wonderful way to attract owls, which are fascinating creatures that are important to a healthy ecosystem.

Owls are known for their nocturnal hunting habits, swooping through the night to prey on small animals.

By attracting owls to your garden, you can help control pest populations and create an environment that supports a diverse range of wildlife.

Let’s explore how to create a wildlife garden that is ideal for attracting and supporting owls.

What Are Owls?

Owls are raptors or birds of prey known for their nocturnal lifestyle. They are carnivorous and predominantly hunt small mammals, rodents, and birds for food. Owls have a unique ability to fly silently, which helps them to ambush their prey effectively.

Habitat and Behavior of Owls

Owls exhibit diverse habitats, such as forests, open fields, and desert regions, depending on the species. They use trees and rocks as shelter and nesting places and often exhibit strong monogamous mating behavior. Owls are also known for their vocalizations or ‘hoot’ sounds used for communication.

North American Owl Species

There are different species of owls that can be found in North America, such as the Great Horned Owl, the Eastern Screech-Owl, the Barred Owl, the Snowy Owl, and the Burrowing Owl. These species vary in size, behavior, and habitat preferences.

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the largest species of owl in North America, known for its characteristic horn-shaped feathers on the head. It is a skilled predator and known to hunt deer and even coyotes in some cases.

Eastern Screech-Owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl has a small stature, but a big personality. It is adaptable to different environments, from forests to suburban areas. It is known for its unique whinnying sound that can sound like a horse.

Barred Owl

The Barred Owl is a medium-sized owl with a distinctive barred pattern and a hooting sound that sounds like, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”

Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is a distinctive species of owl with white plumage that makes it stand out in its environment. It is well adapted to cold environments and has been depicted in popular culture, such as the Harry Potter series.

Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing Owl is a small owl species that inhabits open grasslands. It is known for its long legs and digging ability, which helps it to create nests in underground burrows.

In conclusion, understanding the habitat, behavior, and species of owls is crucial for creating a wildlife garden that can attract them. By knowing more about owls, you can tailor your garden to their preferences and increase the chances of having them visit and reside in your garden.

Creating a Wildlife Garden

If you have ever wanted to pursue gardening, establishing a wildlife garden is an excellent starting point. An ideal garden attracts a variety of animals, including birds, butterflies, and even nocturnal mammals like owls. A well-planned garden can provide a safe environment for these creatures and promote their growth.

Choose the Right Location

To create a wildlife garden that attracts nocturnal wildlife like owls, you must select the right location. It should be an area with fewer artificial lights and sounds as it affects their natural behavior. A location that provides ample shelter, trees, and vegetation is a great place to start.

Assess the Soil

Assessing the soil is crucial in picking the right type of plants that will help attract more owls. Owls prey on rodents, and these rodents feed on plants, so having the right plants can significantly increase owl populations. Furthermore, the soil PH level plays a significant role in the absorption and retention of water. Therefore, you should establish a wildlife garden in an area with well-draining soil to promote plant growth.

Choose the Right Plants

Choosing the right plants is critical to attract owls to your garden. To maximize your chances of attracting owls, plant a variety of native grass, trees, flowers, and shrubs that can provide vertical layers of habitat. By doing this, you create a variety of spaces for these animals to hide, nest, forage, and hunt.

Providing the Right Food

When it comes to providing the right food for owls, it is important to understand their diet. Owls mainly feed on small to medium-sized animals such as rodents, birds, and insects. One way to attract prey animals is to provide plants with dense growth such as evergreens and shrubs. This provides a good hiding place for prey animals like rodents.

Attracting Prey Animals

A great way to attract prey animals is by creating a compost pile. A compost pile attracts insects that are a food source for owls. Leaving dead trees and logs lying around can also serve as a habitat for insects that serve as food for owls. Finally, if you have a meadow in your yard, allow it to grow tall and wild. This provides a good habitat for grasshoppers and other insects.

Types of Food Owls Eat

Different species of owls will have different feeding habits. For example, the barn owl feeds almost exclusively on rodents, while the great horned owl can feed on a wide variety of prey animals. It is important to choose your owl species based on the type of food that is readily available in your area. Check with local wildlife organizations to see what kind of owl species are native to your area.

How to Provide Food for Owls

To provide food for owls, you can set up a bird feeder. Set the feeder with seeds or other food that will attract small birds and rodents that owls can prey on. It is important to locate the feeder in a spot that is easily accessible for the owls. Avoid placing the feeder near a busy area where the presence of humans may scare off owls.

Providing the Right Shelter

If you want to attract owls to your garden, providing the right shelter is crucial. Owls require an environment that offers them adequate protection from predators and harsh weather conditions. Owls prefer to live in wooded areas that provide them with natural shelter in the form of trees. In particular, they look for trees that are tall, sturdy and have dense crowns.

If you have trees in your yard, it’s essential to keep them healthy and well-maintained. Dead or diseased trees should be removed as soon as possible, as they can pose a safety hazard to the owls and other wildlife in your garden. You can also create artificial shelters for the owls, such as nesting boxes, which are specially designed to provide owls with a place to roost and breed.

When building a nesting box, it’s important to follow the specific guidelines for the owl species that you are targeting. Different species of owls have different requirements for nesting boxes. For example, the Eastern Screech-Owl nest box should be placed 10 to 30 feet above the ground with a 3-inch diameter entrance hole, while the Barn Owl nest box should be placed 12-15 feet above the ground with a 6-inch diameter entrance hole.

By providing adequate shelter, you will be able to attract owls to your garden and give them a safe and comfortable place to live. Remember to clean and maintain the artificial shelters regularly to ensure that they remain safe and habitable for the owls.

Providing Water Sources

Water sources are essential elements for owls and other birds to thrive in a wildlife garden. Without a reliable water source, owls will be unable to survive in the garden, and they will move to another location. Providing a water supply is easy and inexpensive, and it can be done in many ways.

The most common method of providing the necessary water supply is through a bird bath. Bird baths are not only helpful for owls, but they are also beneficial to other birds. Owls require a deep water supply for bathing and drinking to cater to their large size. A two-inch-deep, wide-rimmed container that has been set at ground-level can serve this purpose. You should fill up the water daily to stop the breeding of mosquitoes and other bugs.

There are few natural approaches you can opt to provide water sources in the garden. For instance, placing a rock in the garden basin and filling it with water will provide a larger water source for the owls. The owl will perch on the rock and drink from the water source.

Another technique to provide water is to create a pond in the garden. The size of the pond will depend on the garden’s size. In order to make a pond, you need to dig a hole in the garden and cover it with a pond liner. To make it more natural and in line with your garden’s aesthetics, you can edge the pond with stones or rocks. You can also plant water plants such as lilies to keep the quality of the pond safe from the algae and to encourage breeding of aquatic creatures like frogs.

Finally, you can also provide water by harvesting rainwater. For this, you require a rain barrel to catch the rain for providing a regular water supply to the owls. Owls tend to thrive in gardens that have a constant water supply.

Providing water sources is an essential aspect of creating a wildlife garden that will attract owls, ensuring their longevity in your garden.

Dangers and Risks

Attracting owls to your wildlife garden is a great way to enjoy the beauty of nature. However, it’s important to understand that there are risks associated with sharing your space with nocturnal wildlife. Owls are powerful predators and can pose a threat to small pets.

If you own a cat or a small dog, it’s important to provide adequate protection for them. Make sure to keep them indoors, especially at night. If you allow your pets outside, make sure they are supervised, well-trained, and have the necessary vaccinations. If you’re concerned about birds of prey attacking your pets, you might want to consider building or purchasing a secure outdoor enclosure for them to play in.

Harsh weather can also pose a risk for owls. In especially cold weather, owls may become desperate for food and seek shelter in unusual places, such as inside your home. To avoid this situation, it’s important to provide owls with ample, sheltered spaces in your wildlife garden, where they can rest and stay warm.

Your own safety is also a concern when sharing your space with nocturnal wildlife. Make sure to keep a safe distance from owls and be cautious when approaching them. Never attempt to touch an owl or interfere with its activities. If you must interact with an owl, make sure to wear safety gloves and take appropriate precautions.

Finally, it’s important to remember that owls are protected by law, and it’s illegal to harass, trap, or kill them without a permit. If you’re unsure about the legality of any actions you’re taking with regards to owls, make sure to consult with local wildlife or conservation authorities.

Monitoring and Maintaining Your Wildlife Garden

Maintaining a wildlife garden is essential to protect the habitat and ensure the ecosystem works as intended. The requirements for maintenance depend on the location of your garden, but there are some general tips that every wildlife gardener should follow.

Regular Cleaning

Removing debris such as leaves, dead plants, and loose branches from the garden helps to keep the garden healthy. Dead material attracts rodents and insects, which can be hazardous to the owls. Regular cleaning also helps to keep the garden aesthetically pleasing.


Invasive plants and weeds control the growth of other beneficial plants that the owls and other animals depend on. It is advisable to weed the garden regularly to control invasive plants and encourage the growth of preferred plants.


Pruning is essential to maintain the health of the plants in your garden. It encourages new growth and full bloom and should be done occasionally to prevent plants from becoming overgrown. It is also beneficial to the owls since they can use shrubs and hedges as cover.

Observing the habitat

Observing the general condition of the garden and looking for any signs of damage or threats is critical. Frequently checking for any sign of damage or threats that could potentially harm the owls or other species will help to keep them safe.

Improving the habitat

Lastly, improving the habitat by adding more nesting boxes and creating peaceful spaces for the owls in your garden will attract more owls. Large bodies of water like ponds and fountains are exciting spots for not only owls but for other birds as well. These changes can improve the habitat, and consequently, more wildlife will visit your garden.

By following these tips, you can create a garden that will attract owls and other nocturnal creatures for years to come.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, creating a wildlife garden is an excellent way to contribute to the ecosystem.

Having owls in a wildlife garden can help control pests and attract other beneficial animals.

The steps listed above will guide you on attracting owls to your garden and ensure you create an environment that is suitable for them to live.

Now it’s your turn to take action.

Which tip from today’s blog post are you going to try first?

Send me a message and let me know.

If you found this article helpful, share it on social media to help others create their own wildlife garden and make our society more nature-friendly.

Author: Scott Sanders


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