Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are you doing to help the barn owl?
  2. When can I see a barn owl?
  3. Where can I see a barn owl?
  4. Who can I contact if I find an injured barn owl?
  5. Why is the barn owl in trouble?
  6. Why will barn owls boxes make a difference?
  7. Is the barn owl protected by law?
  8. I know where a barn owl nests - who can I tell?
  9. What can I do?
  10. Why are the field vole populations decreasing?
  11. Are pesticides to blame?
  12. Why are you putting up nest boxes if there's a shortage of food?
  13. Why do they need to be a certain weight to breed?
  14. Can't we put down food for the existing birds?
  15. How will our work overcome the isolation issue?
  16. Are we doing anything to raise awareness on the roads?
  17. What about the future? If we have another bad year - will numbers fall dangerously again?
  18. Shall I make some boxes for you?
  19. Can I visit a barn owl box?
  20. Where can I find out more about the barn owl?
  21. How will my donation make a difference?
  22. What is the Barn Owl Monitoring Programme?
  23. How can I donate?
  24. How else can I get involved with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust?

1. What are you doing to help the barn owl?

The Barn Owl project will install 60 new barn owl boxes in pairs, as not being a modern parent the males need their own space.  


2. When can I see a barn owl?

The best time of day to see a barn owl is at dusk or dawn when they are out hunting. You may also occasionally see a female out hunting in the day when food is scarce. 


3. Where can I see a barn owl?

The best place to see a barn owl is over open farmland, particularly over rough grassland. In Gloucestershire the best chance of seeing a barn owl are in the Cotswolds, in the Windrush valley; the Severn Vale, in Ashleworth, Elmore and Longley along flood banks and adjacent grassland. 


4. Who can I contact if I find an injured barn owl?

If you find an injured barn owl, watch it first to see how badly hurt it is. Then contact your local Wildlife Hospital or RSPCA centre. Caution when approaching an injured wild bird and apply common sense. Never lift a wild animal, unless you are sure that you can do so without risk to yourself or others, wear gloves when handling, keep the bird away from your face and wash your hands thoroughly after handling.

If it’s safe to catch and handle the animal, then, wearing suitable gloves, quickly place it into a secure cardboard box with ventilation holes, lined with towel or newspaper. Keep the animal quiet and take it to a vet or local wildlife hospital.

International Centre for Birds of Prey Newent 01531 820286

Vale Wildlife Hospital  Beckford, Nr Tewkesbury 01386 882288

Oak and Furrows Cricklade 01793 751412


5. Why is the barn owl in trouble?

Barn owls are struggling primarily due to the loss of their feeding habitat, rough grassland, and suitable roost and nest sites.
Barn owls are also under threat from;

  • Prolonged cold or wet weather conditions - Barn owls have soft feathers for silent flight and they get saturated and exhausted in prolonged rain. Extreme weather conditions reduce the chance to hunt and available prey when they need more food to keep their weight and energy at a healthy level. Without enough food, the barn owl will struggle to stay alive in long freezing spells and cannot hunt successfully in deep snow.
  • Motorways and busy main roads - Many roads have grown over the years and now slice through areas of once open land. Sometimes the only remaining foraging grounds skirt roadways leaving the barn owls at great risk of collision, particularly as they are low flying and often face the ground whilst in search of food.
  • Drowning in water troughs on farms - This is fairly common during the breeding season especially when the female leaves the nest site to take a drink or to bathe. For the owl's safety it is always a good practice to place on the surface of the water, a floating object, big enough to allow a barn owl to climb to safety if she falls in.

 6. Why will barn owls boxes make a difference?

Barn owl nest boxes will make a difference as they provide increased nesting opportunities to the current population of barn owls and will allow for monitoring of these populations. 


7. Is the barn owl protected by law?

Nesting barn owls are legally protected against disturbance in addition to the basic level of protection afforded to most wild birds. The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 provides protection for barn owls. The eggs and nests are protected under Part 1, Section 1 (1) of the Act - it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild barn owl; take, damage or destroy the nest that is in use or being built; take or destroy a barn owl egg. 


8. I know where a barn owl nests - who can I tell?

If you have seen a barn owl, or know where a barn owl nests then please report your sighting to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust or the Gloucestershire Barn Owl Monitoring Programme.


9. What can I do?

Donate whatever you can spare to the Barn Owl Appeal or volunteer your time to help barn owl conservation work or donate an old tea chest - they are perfect to convert into a barn owl nest box.


10. Why are the field vole populations decreasing?

Field voles are a major part of the barn owl diet, and their populations are decreasing due to loss of habitat of rough grassland. 


11. Are pesticides to blame?

No, although there may be local issues with rodenticide use, resulting in secondary poisoning in barn owls, when eating poisoned prey items.


12. Why are you putting up nest boxes if there's a shortage of food?

We are not just putting up nest boxes, we are working to reduce threats and improve the barn owl's feeding habitat, rough grassland. Where there has been a high uptake of agri-environmental schemes by farmers, the rough grassland issue is being addressed.


13. Why do they need to be a certain weight to breed?

Female barn owls will need to build up their energy reserves prior to breeding to ensure healthy chicks and to allow for successful rearing.


14. Can't we put down food for the existing birds? Can I do anything in my garden to help?

Barn owls are birds of prey, they hunt and catch small mammals, mostly field voles in rough grassland habitat. Unfortunately, gardens are not a suitable hunting ground for barn owls, and they are unlikely to find they prey. Encourage rough grassland.


15. How will our work overcome the isolation issue?

By putting up nest boxes over a wide geographical area, working with landowners to help them manage the barn owls hunting ground over a long period of time.


16. Are we doing anything to raise awareness on the roads?

We will be providing materials to plant up the roadsides with trees to create a screen that will force the barn owls to fly up and over the roads in areas identified as good habitat areas. We will ensure that the location of the new nest boxes will not be in close proximity of any major roads.  


17. What about the future? If we have another bad year - will numbers fall dangerously again?

It is very difficult for us to mitigate against bad winters and unusually wet springs, but we can help to eliminate the threats facing the barn owl. If we can do all we can to provide safe nesting sites and manage good hunting habitat, then we give the barn owls the best chance we can. The nest boxes will be installed inside barns with barn owl presence, and will be of a certain thickness to provide the best insulation possible for the barn owl chicks.


18. Shall I make some boxes for you?

We are asking people to donate old wooden tea chests, which are perfect for converting into barn owl nest boxes. 


19. Can I visit a barn owl nest box?

Barn owls nests are protected by law against disturbance, so we will not publicise the location of the barn owl nest boxes. But if you would like to get involved with the project and volunteer you will receive training to monitor specific barn owl nest boxes. 


20. Where can I find out more about the barn owl?

Gloucestershire Barn Owl Monitoring Programme

RSPB

The Barn Owl Trust

Barn Owl Conservation Network

The Barn Owl Centre

The International Centre for Birds of Prey


21. How will my donation make a difference?

Every penny of your donation will make a direct contribution towards the barn owl project and aid in the recovery of the barn owl in Gloucestershire.


22. What is the Barn Owl Monitoring Programme?

The Barn Owl Monitoring Programme was established in 2014, it's aim is to study barn owls and to contribute to their conservation through monitoring, ringing and providing advice to landowners. GWT work closely with the Barn Owl Monitoring Programme, who will work with us to provide training for monitoring purposes. 


23. How can I donate?

You can donate through our website, by calling is on 01452 383333.


24. How else can I get involved with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust?

There are plenty of other ways you can support Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. 

  • Become a volunteer - whether you have a couple of hours of a couple of days to spare, volunteering is a great way to get out, get fit and get involved in helping to protect your local wildlife.
  • Come along to one of our events - with over 150 'Wild' events taking place throughout the year, From wildlife identification courses, to practical days, to family fun days out, there is something to suit everybody.
  • Become a member - Be part of something special and really make a difference to protect and preserve Gloucestershire's wildlife for today, and the future.
  • Community fundraising - there are lots of ways you can help us raise money as an individual, community, workplace or school. Why not join us on our annual Walk 4 Wildlife in June?
  • Leave a gift in your will - by leaving us a gift in your will you can help us protect the precious wildlife of Gloucestershire
  • Adopt a species - Adopt for yourself or give the gift of wildlife and help protect Gloucestershire's valuable wildlife. 
  • Become a Corporate member - If your business wants to help local wildlife, invest in the local community and contribute to a healthier environment, you could benefit from a relationship us.