I've never heard anything about owls and bats NOT coexisting, but then I've never heard anything to the effect that they do, either.
Re the box, they'll find it if they're looking in the loft (where they'd be looking anyway) for a nest site. I would be careful with the bank barn--while it's got a better ceiling height, if the bats are already in there they might just take over the box as they like dark hidey-holes, too!
As far as martin houses go, the one thing you need to know is to actually get martins, as opposed to wrens or English sparrows, to take them, is they need a lot of open space around them. Martins ideally like having a big open meadow to fly through. For bugs, I would also put up boxes to encourage tree swallows and bluebirds.
Thanks! I'll look into the houses for the different birds. I've been googling owl information. There are a few non profit orgs out there- I'll email them and ask about co-existence with bats and take their advice on owl house placement... Thanks again!!
The other night I was putting one of the horses out and as I walked back to the barn I saw that beautiful, graceful creature glide into the barn. I really was wanting to identify what kind of owl he was for sure so I snuck to the edge of the barn door and sure enough, it's a barn owl.
He/She is so magnificent!! I couldn't believe how tall and proud he/she looked perched on top of one of the stall dividers. We watched each other for a minute and then it flew off. His/her wing span is huge!
I'm just glad he/she let me see him/her for a moment and maybe next time I'll be able to get some pictures.
I have been keeping the barn close up lately to keep the chickens out of it (they are SO messy) and because it's been nice enough for the horses to stay out in pasture but I'm going to have to break down and keep the doors open. I want to put a box up for him/her as well.
I've read through all these threads with a "birder's" interest. Curious to know if the observed owl was actually a barn owl as most of them prefer a quiet, non-peopled barn loft. They are so shy that to see one in the daytime is very rare unless it was startled from where it was roosting. They are too small as noted by others here to take a cat, nor would they try, since it's not on their menu. Young owls commonly starve to death in their first winter if they can't find their usual diet due to prolonged snow or rain making their hunting efforts hopeless. I have two "owl stories" for those who think a one pound screech owl is a wuss, and a GH owl doesn't dine on cats. About 25 years when I moved to my farm I was getting over run with pidgeons in my bank barn loft. I tried closing up the barn but they would find their way back in no matter what I did. Finally I started to live trap them. When I would have more them half caught and stuffed in bunny hutches (about 20 birds) I put them all in boxes (re-catching them out of the bunny hutches was worth a funniest home video prize) and I drove them about 10 miles away to where I knew other pidgeons lived at an underpass on a highway...thought they'd like it there with their own kind. Sad to say, they beat me home. When I drove up my driveway, there they were on my barn roof...all of them! That winter I went in the loft one night to toss down hay bales when I heard the clicking of a screech owl. I quickly closed the big barn door to the bank then went looking for my visitor. Found him perched on top of a very dead, but bigger than him, pidgeon. I had a "let nature take it's course" solution to my pidgeons. I kept the little guy trapped in my barn for several weeks and feed the pidgeons cracked corn and made sure there was water. He killed and ate about ten pidgeons. I'd find his "pellets" but seldom saw him. He'd click away at me from the rafters if I wandered too close to him. I finally opened the big barn door one day and the surviving pidgeons took off for a safer home, never returning. Don't know how soon the owl escaped to the wild.
As for GH owls eating cats, I can't say they all will, but I have personal experience with a suburban GH owl who took several cats a week while feeding it's babies. I had a neighbor whose back deck was under a large hemlock tree. Land near her was once open fields and a tree nursery, but had become a large housing development. In the tree over her deck, a GH owl was raising a family so she would find strange wild animal parts tossed out of the nest as well as the usual pellets. Then she started to find the cats. I stopped to see the worst of the cat bodies. It was a head with the spine more or less still attached. Seems like the mom found the housing development cats easy picking. There was about 6 cats that spring who fed the owls. Mom didn't return to that nesting site after that but it was a gruesome spring on my friend's deck. Ironically, most of the cats were black and white, and skunks are common meals for the GH owl.
I am sorry about your barn kitty, but I think you are right...it probably wasn't the Barn Owl. I just finished a great book about a barn owl: 'Wesley The Owl" (www.wesleytheowl.com) by Stacey O'Brien. She was a biologist at Cal Tech who studied owls and she hand raised an injured baby owl named 'Wesley".
I'm about 3/4 of the way throught that book right now, very interesting read!
But I breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, so when I have a litter of puppies, they are NOT permitted outside when dusk begins approaching - until they are at least 3 months old. We have seen several Great Horned in this area and I don't want to risk it!