Volunteers needed to transform the fortunes of barn owls

Barn owl (c) Margaret Holland

Barn owl (c) Margaret Holland

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Wildlife lovers are being urged to help safeguard one of Northern Ireland’s most endangered birds, by getting involved in Ulster Wildlife’s annual survey of barn owls this summer.

Over 70 volunteers have taken part in the annual survey, which started in 2014.

The barn owl is one of our most cherished species, but is sadly under serious threat as a result of habitat loss and rodenticide use. It is now thought there are less than 30 to 50 breeding pairs left here.

Conor McKinney, Living Landscapes Manager, Ulster Wildlife

Volunteers are needed to record sightings of this iconic farmland bird, check historic and potential nest sites for signs of activity, liaise with landowners to gather information, and raise public awareness of the barn owl’s plight.

A series of workshops are being held in Craigavon, Cookstown, Enniskillen, Randalstown, Coleraine, Downpatrick and Bangor, throughout May and June, for anyone interested in taking part.

All training and equipment will be provided.

Conor McKinney, Living Landscapes Manager with Ulster Wildlife said: “The barn owl is one of our most cherished species, but is sadly under serious threat as a result of habitat loss and rodenticide use. It is now thought there are less than 30 to 50 breeding pairs left here.

“Volunteers play a crucial role in helping us to track down these elusive birds and monitor year on year trends in the barn owl population.

“We had a fantastic response to the survey over the last two years and the data collected enables us to target our conservation work to help barn owls thrive.

“We would also encourage people to watch out for barn owls and report any signs or sightings to help with wider survey efforts.”

To find out more about the barn owl survey workshops or to report a barn owl sighting, visit www.ulsterwildlife.org/barnowl or email barnowls@ulsterwildlife.org.

This initiative is supported by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.