Where do owls nest in Illinois?

Answered by Tom Adger

In Illinois, barn owls are known for their adaptability when it comes to choosing nesting sites. As their name suggests, they are often found nesting in barns, but they are not limited to this type of structure. Grain bins, silos, belfries, and even specially designed nest boxes can also serve as suitable nesting sites for these birds.

It is fascinating to observe how barn owls have taken advantage of human structures for their nest sites. Barns, with their spacious interiors and rafters, provide ample space and protection for these nocturnal birds. They often find cozy spots in the upper corners of barns, where they can rest and raise their young undisturbed.

In addition to barns, barn owls have been known to make use of grain bins and silos. These tall structures offer a similar environment to barns, with plenty of height and secluded areas for nesting. The abundance of rodents attracted to grain storage facilities also provides a readily available food source for the owls, making these locations particularly attractive for nesting.

One might think that barns, grain bins, and silos would be the primary nesting sites for barn owls in Illinois, but they are not the only options. These resourceful birds have also been found nesting in belfries of churches and other tall buildings. The high vantage point and relative seclusion of these structures make them ideal for barn owls to establish their nests.

To further support the conservation efforts for barn owls, nest boxes have been installed in suitable habitats across Illinois. These specially designed boxes mimic the natural cavities in trees that barn owls would typically use for nesting. By providing these artificial nest sites, conservationists hope to encourage the breeding and population growth of barn owls in the state.

It is worth noting that barn owls also utilize natural nest sites when available. Tree cavities and dens on cliffs and bluffs can serve as secure nesting locations for these birds. However, with the increasing human presence and destruction of natural habitats, barn owls have adapted to using human structures for nesting more frequently.

Barn owls in Illinois are incredibly adaptable when it comes to choosing nesting sites. While they can still be found nesting in natural sites such as tree cavities and cliffs, they have taken advantage of human structures such as barns, grain bins, silos, belfries, and nest boxes. The availability of suitable nesting locations in these structures, along with the abundance of food sources, has allowed barn owls to thrive in various habitats across the state.