Barn Owls too reliant on conservationists?

Anne Diamond spoke with Jason Ball live on BBC Radio Berkshire yesterday about Barn Owls. Anne was following up the national news story about owls being dependent on nestboxes.

Jason pointed out that actually it’s a sign of success, and reason to congratulate the nation’s Barn Owl conservation volunteers, and the farmers they work with.

Natureheads.com

The headlines were sparked by a BBC news interview with Colin Shawyer, who founded the BOCN (Barn Owl Conservation Network). The Sheepdrove Trust sponsors the BOCN and Sheepdrove Organic Farm is its national HQ.

Colin, who trained Jason in monitoring and ringing owls, carried out a study in the 1980s which revealed a massive decline in the Barn Owl population. So he set up the BOCN and it soon became a key network for advisors and owl conservationists across the UK and Eire.

In some areas, such as Salisbury Plain, nest box schemes have increased the barn owl population by up to five times. But the reliance on nest boxes is now so great, the birds will need constant conservation,” explained Colin.

Lambourn Valley Barn Owl Group has been very busy building nest boxes at Sheepdrove Organic Farm, to sell as a way to raise money for the group. Of course those boxes must go into areas with good owl habitat, otherwise they won’t help owls at all. So LVBOG also provides advice to farmers and landowners about how to manage grass for the prey that owls rely on.

Listen again to that Anne Diamond show.
The interview starts 32 minutes in. (available 6 days on iPlayer)

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