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4-29-21 GCG Owl Houses Update.

 Last Friday we checked on the houses, and in one of the owl ones there is a nest of European starlings. This is along with a nest in the American Kestrel house.  Although the birds aren't what we were hoping for, we will let them stay for now because we aren't sure if they have laid eggs yet and just out of respect for the birds.  

It all started with a vole, some disappearing carrots and a movie....The GCG Owl Houses


Helping humanity in a natural way

What: The Problem

      What caused us to hang the owl houses was a problem with the root crops, specifically one with the beets and carrots. Voles, a type of rodent, had been eating all of them. This meant there were none to give to the food pantries, and more people would be food insecure. The garden tried to use solar powered buzzers to deter the voles, but it didn’t work. 

Why: Seeking Natural Solutions

We chose this idea because it solved the problem in a natural way. Meaning, it had

no harmful effects on the surrounding environment or the crops. The idea came from the movie                         “The Biggest Little Farm” where everything was solved in a natural way. The owl houses would also be educational to people.

 http://www.biggestlittlefarmmovie.com/      

How: Research (Part 1)

We first spoke with Tim Joyce, Owner of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Glenview to determine if the idea of attracting owls would even be possible.  He confirmed that Screech Owls are in this area of Glencoe.  And he confirmed that birds along the Green Bay corridor have become used to the noise of the train and activity of people along the bike path so it seemed like it could work! 

Next, we read about the size of house we would need to build.  We needed a simple design that could be easily cleaned out in case a squirrel took up residence.  We settled on the design from the Audubon Society which can be made from cutting one piece of wood, size 1x10x8.  

How to build a owl nest box: https://www.audubon.org/news/how-build-screech-owl-nest-box


            Lastly, we met with Karen and Richard Weiner from A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife.  As they have two Screech Owls in their care, we were able to discuss the project and get their input on when to install the houses and how best to design.  They also recommended covering the houses in bark to give the appearance of a hole in a tree.  

How: Building (Part 2) 

          This was perhaps the easiest part. We simply took the designs for the houses and cut the wood, then screwed the pieces together. After that, we took bark and covered the owl houses with it. Jim Goodman, one of the GCG Founders, let us use his workshop.  We built two owls houses and one Kestrel house.  Kestrel’s are also in the area and feed on voles.  They hunt during the day and the owls hunt during the night, so we would be covered 24/7!                            

How: Installation (Part 3) 

Installation was also fairly simple. We did more research and found that they needed to be 65ft or more from each other for no territory conflicts. Then, we decided on two trees that were sturdy and had lots of branches to put the houses on. Nina Schroeder, another GCG  Founder, shared our idea with the village and they gave us permission to put up the houses.  We met the crew from the Glencoe Public Works at the Garden to install. They attached the houses to the trees in the spots we liked. 

How: Monitoring (Part 4)

This part is currently still in progress so it may not be a complete timeline when you read this.  We plan to install field cameras so we could watch anything living inside and hopefully stream it on the GCG’s website. Also, every week we go to the Garden to look and see if anything has made a home in the owl boxes. We believe that there are two squirrels in two of the houses. We do this monitoring because we want to make sure that owls do come, or can come and nest. It is also exciting because we would know to watch closely for baby owls!

Giving Thanks!

Many people and organizations were involved in helping make this idea a reality and we are grateful for your support, expertise and encouragement every step of the way!

What I Learned…

From this experience I learned that the best way to solve a natural problem is a natural solution. I also learned and understood more about owls and how they help the ecosystem. And finally I was also further educated on how to do a big project properly, and doing all the steps correctly to achieve the goal. 




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4-29-21 GCG Owl Houses Update.

 Last Friday we checked on the houses, and in one of the owl ones there is a nest of European starlings. This is along with a nest in the American Kestrel house.  Although the birds aren't what we were hoping for, we will let them stay for now because we aren't sure if they have laid eggs yet and just out of respect for the birds.