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World Owl Trust - leading the World in Owl Conservation
Wednesday 1st October, 2014

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Attracting Barn Owls

Information for those who:
  1. Used to see Barn Owls but they are no longer there.
  2. Think they have suitable habitats for Barn Owls.
  3. Wish to attract Barn Owls to their area.

In order for a pair of Barn Owls to survive and breed successfully they need in the region of 120 acres of permanent, rough, tussocky grassland over which they can hunt and catch their main prey item of the Short-tailed Vole. They also need a suitable nest site e.g. a seldom-used or undisturbed barn or building or hollow isolated tree.

  1. If there have been Barn Owls in your area in the past, the first question that needs to be asked is why they are no longer there. Has there been any change in agricultural practice, e.g. increased stock grazing, which may have decreased the bird’s food supply. Have new roads been built leading to increased mortality. If you feel the habitat is still suitable to support a population of Barn Owls then read on.
  2. The 120 acres of hunting territory needed by the Barn Owl does not include grass that is cut or grazed. Even light grazing will drastically reduce the vole population and there will not be sufficient prey to sustain a pair of Barn Owls. Suitable hunting areas to look for are: permanent, uncut, ungrazed grass as already mentioned, ungrazed bog/moss, ungrazed woodland edge, field margins or headlands, ungrazed river or canal banks, dykes and ditches, disused quarries or railway embankments, new or young woodland plantations. These hunting areas must be away from major roads.
  3. If you feel that you have the correct habitat that will support a pair of Barn Owls, and you would like to encourage them, the first and most simple step is to erect nest-boxes at suitable sites - see the Nest-box page here for further details.
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