To date, nest orientation and location in hole-nesting birds have been studied mainly in temperate regions and in diurnal cavity breeders. Here we studied the effect of exposure, orientation, and habitat on nest box occupation and breeding success of Barn Owls in a semi-arid environment. The occupation of nest boxes varied with exposure and orientation. A higher percentage of occupation and more Barn Owl nestlings per breeding attempt were found in nest boxes located in the shade than in the sun, and in those facing east/north rather than other directions. The temperature in the nest boxes varied, being lowest in those located in the shade and in those facing east. Nest boxes located in crop fields fledged more young per breeding attempt than those located in date plantations. We suggest that the higher nest box occupation and number of nestlings fledged was probably due to the lower temperatures in those boxes, an important factor in a hot/arid environment, although alternative explanations are also considered.
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