No matter how cute they are, small plant-loving critters like rabbits can be a big problem in your garden. Just ask Mr. McGregor. There are many options to keep cottontails out of your garden, like fences and rabbit repellent. You can also look to the natural world to keep bunnies at bay.
One option is to attract owls to your yard, which will ward off rabbits, squirrels, and other small rodents and pests that might get into your garden. And in Missouri, some owls, like barn owls, are a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss and other factors. By creating habitat, you can help them, and in turn, they’ll help your garden.
The Kemper Center for Home Gardening provided the following tips on attracting owls to your yard.
Choosing the right spot
First, make sure you pick a site that is safe for owls. If it’s near a busy road or agricultural site that uses pesticides, it wouldn’t be wise to attract owls to the site. They can be vulnerable to car strikes on large, fast roadways and may eat rodents or insects that have been affected by agricultural pesticides.
Keep their food source close
If you have woodlands you are looking to use as owl habitat, consider creating a brush pile with fallen branches and grass clippings. Rodents will use the brush pile as shelter, and they are the main food source for most species of owls. Make sure to place the brush pile away from your home or other structures.
Create a home
Installing the correct nest box can help encourage owls to nest in a certain area. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has great instructions and tips for installing nest boxes specific to different species of owls.
Turn out the lights
Most owls are sensitive to the constant glare of human light pollution. Help make their hunting grounds darker by setting your outdoor lights to turn off automatically after a certain time.
If a family of owls take up residence in your neighborhood don’t disturb the parents or young. Owl parents can be quite protective of their young, and may attack if provoked. Keep your distance and view the family using binoculars.
Owls also might not be the best fit for your yard if you have small pets, like a smaller dog or cat. You can find more information about keeping rabbits and other animals out of your garden on the Kemper Center’s website.
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