Working together to renest an owlet due to construction

June 20, 2024

A local contractor called our wildlife hospital looking for assistance regarding a barn owlet nesting in the rafters of a home. The owlet was found in an area slated for work and there was concern the owlet would be injured by the construction work.  

We worked with the contractor and gained permission to place a barn owl nest box on the scaffolding near the area where the owl had nested. The one caveat was that we had to move the box before work started at the site the next morning. 

Even though the scaffolding was a good twelve feet lower than where the nest was originally, we were optimistic the mother owl would adjust and return to care for her baby. We went late in the evening, placed the owl box on the scaffolding and fed the owlet once more before placing it in the nest box for the night. 

The following morning, staff arrived before sunrise to find the renesting had been successful. The mother owl had returned to care for her baby and flew off just as we approached the scaffolding. Per our agreement, staff removed the owlet and nest box so construction could continue. 

A common barn owlet adjusts to being placed in a nest box after receiving care at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for two days.

The same plan was successfully carried out for a second night. While the owl mother wasn’t at the box the second morning, we knew she had been there because there were remnants of a rat she had fed her baby.

On the third day, the rains let up allowing us to properly renest the owlet by attaching the nest box to a nearby tree. Permission was granted by the City of Naples to install the box in a tree on city property and Dylan Jaques, owner-operator of Homegrown Tree Care, LLC, donated his time and professional services and placed the nest box in a Royal Palm roughly one hundred and twenty feet from the house where the owl had nested.

Dylan carefully placed the owlet inside the nest box after attaching the box part way up the royal palm. Two small sticks were placed in the entrance hole so we would be able to tell if the mother owl had entered the nest. If the sticks were still in place, it would indicate the mother owl hadn’t returned. If the sticks were gone, that was proof the owl had entered the nest box.

Dylan Jaques, owner-operator of Home Grown Tree Care, donated his time to attach a barn owl nest box to a royal palm in order to renest a barn owl whose nest was disturbed at a local construction site.

An hour after sunset, we went to the site to monitor for any signs of activity at the nest box. 

We stood directly under the nest box and played a recording of the baby owl taken while the owlet was receiving care at our hospital. The goal was to draw the mother owlet in with the sound of her baby calling so she would associate the call with the new location of the nest box.

After playing the call for a minute, the mother owl flew in but didn’t stop at the nest box and disappeared from view. We waited a few minutes and began playing the recording again. This time the mother called out in response, flew in circling the trees for over a minute before she landed in the palm within five feet of the nest box. 

We waited in our car nearby to see if the owl would enter the nest box. Instead, she flew to a different tree. We could hear the owlet calling from the nest box and knew that if we could hear the owlet’s calls then the mother owl could as well. 

At that point, we left for the night with a plan to check the box the next morning. To everyone’s delight, the sticks were gone from the entrance hole providing confirmation the owlet and mother were successfully reunited. 

We are incredibly grateful to Dylan Jaques with Homegrown Tree Care and the City of Naples staff for their cooperation and assistance. 

If you have questions about a nesting situation, please contact us at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital before taking any actions on your own. Our number is 239-262-2273 and we are open everyday from 8am to 7pm.

Consider helping wildlife by installing nest boxes on your property. Many species of wildlife such as woodpeckers, purple martins, flying squirrels, bats and eastern screech owls will use nest boxes. Providing a nest box is a great way to encourage native wildlife to set up residency in your yard.