Shropshire Nest Box Scheme Helps to Begin a Population Recovery after a Long and Significant Decline
Work by the Shropshire Barn Owl Group, a member of the Shropshire Biodiversity Partnership, to install in excess of 200 Barn Owl Boxes across Shropshire since 2002 has helped the population of this striking and beautiful bird begin a recovery after a long and significant decline.
Barn Owl nest boxes provided, installed and monitored by the dedicated team of volunteers who make up the Shropshire Barn Owl Group have produced 262 chicks since 2002. This exceeds the 172 chicks which have been produced from natural nest sites monitored during the same 6 year period. Barn Owls using natural nest sites are breeding well but the additional nesting sites provided by nest boxes are clearly having a positive effect on the population in Shropshire.
The decline of Barn Owls began in the early 19th century and is thought to have been due to a decline available nest sites, loss of habitats for hunting, persecution and land use changes. The Shropshire Biodiversity Partnership has produced an ‘action plan’ for the Barn Owl in Shropshire which is being led by the Shropshire Barn Owl Group along with other organisations including The Upper Onny Wildlife Group, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, Shropshire County Council and E.ON at the Ironbridge Power Station. The action plan has helped to provide artificial nest sites in boxes matched with suitable habitat which has increased the number of chicks being produced each year and has also increased each year the number of pairs of adult Barn Owls in Shropshire.
The Shropshire Barn Owl Group is keen to maintain the current momentum in establishing pairs of breeding barn owl on new sites and can provide advice on habitats and nest boxes to landowners who are interested. Barn Owl sightings by members of the public are very useful for this work and can be reported to the Shropshire Ornithological Society (www.bto.org/birdtrack) or the Shropshire Wildlife Trust (enquiries@ShropshireWildlifeTrust.org.uk or call 01743 284280).