Barn owl

(c) Allen Holmes

As one of our most iconic species of bird, the barn owl is a species people would love to have nesting and breeding near them. The Barn owl has had a change in fortune in recent years due to the change in farming practices and also the loss of nesting sites, which is why nest boxes have become such an important part of their survival. Let’s look at the British Barn owl in a bit more detail to see why they need nest boxes…

Barn Owl chick monitored in a box

Barn owls have been around a lot longer than our barns and farm buildings, but the first real survey work on Barn owls didn’t happen until Blaker in 1932 and Shawyer in 1987.  The full survey of barn owls using recognised scientific techniques wasn’t until 1995-97 showing Circa 4,000 pairs.   Since then, no complete survey has been done, although population figures regionally can be understood from local monitoring groups.  The main factors that have and do affect this bird include intensification of farming and loss of rough grassland, nest and roost sites with old farm buildings and old trees decreasing in numbers and road mortality for dispersing young.   So how can you help?

Nest boxes offer a Barn owl a place to roost and possibly raise a family.  Below are a few pointers for what you need to help Barn owls and how you can buy your own nest box from us.

    • Rough Grassland – If you’re not a landowner but you know local farmers, maybe encourage them to leave rough margins.  If you are a landowner, then try to leave rough grassland. You can even get support from stewardship schemes.
    • Buy a box from us and position it near or within rough open grassland. Your nest box can be positioned in a tree with a nice clear flight path into it.
    • The box will come with full positioning and mounting instructions.
    • Barn owls are susceptible to traffic, so boxes should not be positioned in close proximity to major trunk roads.
  • Another thing often overlooked when putting up any nest box is putting a substrate in the bottom of the box.  Barn owls don’t make nests ,but will make a shallow depression in a substrate to lay the eggs in.  Mole hill soil or compost is a great substrate; avoid things like wood chip/sawdust as these can harbour pathogens.

To buy a Barn Owl box built by Raptor Aid, visit our shop! If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us!