The barn owl is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic species, but unfortunately one of the most endangered with less than 30 to 50 breeding pairs estimated to be left in Northern Ireland.
This fascinating farmland bird has been in steady decline since the 1960’s. Extreme weather, loss of suitable foraging and nesting habitat, combined with the build-up of toxins from consuming poisoned prey are the main reasons.
The Be There for Barn Owls project, delivered by Ulster Wildlife (June 2013 - October 2016) with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, attempted to give the barn owl a fighting chance of survival, by increasing understanding of the factors involved in its decline and working with farmers and landowners to help barn owls thrive in areas where they are known to breed.
Over the past three years our Barn Owl Officer, alongside many skilled and passionate volunteers, helped to increase the amount of rough grassland for barn owls to forage by supporting landowners, supplying and erecting nest boxes for barn owls to roost and breed, undertaking surveys to establish its distribution, and raising awareness of the barn owls’ plight. Read more about the project’s achievements.
While the project has now ended, Ulster Wildlife will continue to champion the barn owl and its conservation as resources allow: a dedicated volunteer will help organise continued surveys and provide advice to landowners; volunteer fieldworkers will carry on monitoring their sites for signs of occupation; a centralised barn owl reporting system has been established for public sightings; and we will continue to seek funding for future barn owl conservation activities.
We are hugely grateful for everyone’s support and interest to date, and ongoing commitment to ensuring that the protection of this iconic species continues.