Barn Owl Survey
The Barn Owl used to be one of our more common Owls. However, as brick barns are no longer built and those that do stand, often converted into dwellings, there is a significant decline in suitable nesting sites. Couple this with modern methods of farming and the habitat required by Barn Owls is in significant decline.
The Barn Owl unlike either Tawny or Little Owls, hunts predominantly in open territory. It prefers areas of long grass where small mammals such as mice, shrews and voles live, their primary food source.
In and around our Teme Valley Area, we are fortunate that there is still some very good Barn Owl habitat.
Seeing a Barn Owl in our area, whilst not an 'every day occurrence', is not too unusual.
We are asking therefore for sightings to be reported to the wild life group, in order that we can map out their distribution in our area, in order to determine just how many birds we have locally.
Obviously this requires input from local people living and working in the area and we would encourage those that do, to report any sightings to us. Contact either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
What you can do to help
If you are farming, consider leaving a margin of a meter or so of uncut grass on the field boundary. This creates a habitat for the small mammals and provides a corridor along which the Barn Owl can hunt.
Place a Barn Owl nesting box in a tree. Ideally the tree will be in the open with a suitable hunting ground in the immediate vicinity. There are plenty of web sites with details on making barn Owl boxes.
Report your local Barn Owl sightings.
How much habitat do Barn Owls need in mixed landscapes?
Research funded by Barn Owl Trust has produced the best estimates of the quantity of habitat required by British Barn Owls in different landscape types.
In mixed landscapes, it is estimated that Barn Owls require about 43 km of grassy margin within 2 km of a suitable nest site.
Research has also shown that field voles require grassy margins to be greater than 4 m, and ideally around 6 m wide.
Barn Owls also hunt most efficiently along 6 m wide margins. It is therefore estimate that Barn Owls in mixed landscapes require between 17 and 26 ha (42 - 65 acres) of rough grassland within 2 km of a nest site. However, to support a viable breeding population of Barn Owls over a wider area, land beyond 2 km radius also needs to be suitable. Again, the BTO research estimates that between 1.4 and 2.0% of the total land area in mixed landscapes needs to be rough grassland.
Perhaps by working with your neighbours you can make Barn Owls a common sight in this area?
We are currently aware of six Barn Owls in the Area. (June 2008 - Jan 2009)