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Boost For Barn Owls

Boost for Barn OwlsBarn owl © Tim Ward

The decline of the barn owl in the UK is well documented and has triggered a national effort to conserve this Species of European Conservation Concern. This project will aim to increase the range and population size of the barn owl in South and West Yorkshire by reinforcing the ecological network and connectivity of barn owls and the grasslands where they feed.

The decline of the barn owl in the UK is well documented and has triggered a national effort to conserve this Species of European Conservation Concern. Availability of rough-grassland feeding habitat, suitable breeding sites, and lack of habitat connectivity are the biggest causes of this trend. Yorkshire has been reported as one of the lowest counties in terms of barn owl coverage in England. This project will increase the range and population size of the barn owl in South and West Yorkshire by reinforcing the ecological network and connectivity of barn owls and grasslands, and by filling in current gaps and knowledge of existing breeding sites. A series of barn owl nest boxes will be installed, concentrating on waterway networks and areas of riparian farmland in the lower parts of the Don and Rother, and Idle and Torne river catchments.

This will provide strategic stepping stones between rough-grassland habitat, natural breeding sites, and neighbouring barn owl conservation schemes. Intensification of agriculture is a major contribution to barn owl population decline and though this project we will have an opportunity to engage local landowners and help influence farming practise to benefit this species. A long term monitoring scheme will be developed in line with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Barn Owl Monitoring Programme (BOMP). This will help to engage and train local volunteers and bird ringers, and provide valuable data on barn owl breeding success, distribution, and survival.

If you are interested in getting involved to help survey habitats or monitor barn owl populations please contact
Jamie McEwan at Jamie.mcewan@ywt.org.uk or on 01302 853941
You can also report your sightings at http://barnowls.ywt.org.uk