To Wit To Woo

Make your own owl house and en­tice a pair of these cap­ti­vat­ing crea­tures into your gar­den

South African Country Life - - Diy - WORDS STEPHEN SMITH PHO­TO­GRAPHS RED­MAN ME­DIA

The hoot of an owl is one of the most evoca­tive, ro­man­tic, and pos­si­bly hair-rais­ing, sounds of the night. I grew up with the

¿ on in life our fam­ily home was fre­quently ser­e­naded by the mag­i­cal duet of African Wood Owls, a sound that to this day

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" # $ % # % $& ' at the di­verse cul­tural be­liefs as­so­ci­ated with them. In An­cient Greece, for ex­am­ple, owls were seen as sym­bols of good for­tune, and as­so­ci­ated with Athena, the God­dess of Wis­dom. But just up the road, the Ro­mans re­garded owls as omens of death, and of de­feat to their armies. These neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions were mir­rored in places as far apart as Ara­bia, West Malaysia and Cen­tral Africa, and of course in some of our lo­cal cul­tures. ( # # % ) the ro­dent pop­u­la­tion – a great rea­son for pop­ping an owl house in a tree, and giv­ing a de­serv­ing owl cou­ple also the chance to bless you with wis­dom and fer­til­ity. * & % # theirs. Both Spot­ted Ea­gle-Owls and Barn Owls are com­mon res­i­dents in ) ) % ) # & % # # # % them move in. The de­sign used here is for Barn Owls. Spot­ted Ea­gle-Owls need ) & #

You will need

SA pine cut to the fol­low­ing di­men­sions:

10 x 500mm x 144mm x 20mm (back, front and base) 7 x 392mm x 144mm x 20mm (sides)

4 x 600mm x 144mm x 20mm (roof)

2 x 432mm x 32mm x 32mm (short side frame) 2 x 570mm x 32mm x 32mm (long side frame) 1 x 200mm x 32mm x 32mm (land­ing perch)

1 x 600mm x 32mm x 32mm (mounting cleat) 100 x 4.5mm x 40mm cut screws out­door wood sealant

4 x 100mm nails

4 x 75mm or longer screws

Tools Jig­saw, cord­less drill/driver, 4mm and 10mm wood drill bits, cir­cu­lar saw/cut-off saw/hand saw, ham­mer

NOTE The di­men­sions of this owl house are 500mm x 432mm x 572mm, more or less. These were dic­tated by the di­men­sions of the planks we used, and based on the 500mm x 400mm di­men­sions that were rec­om­mended to us. BUT don’t worry if your owl box is slightly dif­fer­ent in size – very few owls use tape mea­sures when scout­ing for a new place to raise their young.

COST About R1 000 us­ing SA pine from a hard­ware store. If you use other tim­ber this will ob­vi­ously af­fect the price, and re­cy­cled wood is much cheaper..

DIF­FI­CULTY 2 out of 5

TIME 3 hours, plus a few min­utes a day over 3 days for seal­ing. An as­sis­tant isn’t nec­es­sary for the con­struc­tion, but you’ll need some help when you hang the owl house.

Gray Stockil-Smith keeps an eye on the owl house, wait­ing for a res­i­dent to move in. Sage the Jack Rus­sell isn’t too sure an owl in their gar­den is such a good idea.

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