The barn owl is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic species, but unfortunately one of the most endangered, with less than 30 to 55 breeding pairs estimated to be left in Northern Ireland.
The main reason for the bird’s decline is loss of suitable feeding and nesting sites. Without adequate rough grassland, there are fewer small mammals such as wood mouse and pygmy shrew for the barn owl to feed on. Rough grassland also encourages small mammals to break cover from the hedgerows and woodlands where they are concentrated, into areas where barn owls can hunt.
The Ulster Wildlife Trust are attempting to address the issues causing the decline of barn owls by working with organisations and private landowners to help make small, inexpensive and potentially profitable changes in the management of their land to help the barn owl thrive. John Woolsey, the Ulster Wildlife trust Barn Owl Officer will also be raising awareness about barn owls with landowners and schools, and will be undertaking surveys to establish their location.
But he’s not alone. We also have a dedicated team of volunteer fieldworkers throughout Northern Ireland that have been trained up and are currently scouring the landscape for old buildings where barn owls may be nesting.
We know that barn owls have previously been sighted in the Ring of Gullion AONB so if you have any information on barn owl nesting sites or would like to report a barn owl sighting, please contact John on 028 4483 3977 or email [email protected], so that we can help this wonderful species. Any reports will be treated with the upmost confidence.
Photo from Margaret Holland UWT