Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

The Barn Owl is a much loved species amongst British wildlife enthusiasts, albeit numbers have declined significantly since the 1930’s. The decline is closely linked to building, agriculture and farming practices; this has in recent years led to many efforts being made to reverse these trends. Luckily the Barn Owl is relatively receptive to using Nest boxes and with good habitat management they will do well with a little help from the British weather.

Clutch sizes are around 5-6 eggs. Following the Barn Owl declines noted during the Hawk Trust national survey in 1982-85, the number of nestboxes has risen from around 6,000 to approximately 25,000 in the mid 1990s. Many Barn Owl groups have been established throughout the UK, They like to hunt over open country and farmland, favouring species such as mice, voles and shrews.

Roosting Barn Owls
A pair of ‘Roosting Barn Owls’ by local artist Rory Carr of Tavistock

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

Our most familiar and widespread owl, it is strictly nocturnal and rarely seen during the day unless  it has been disturbed, numbers are thought to be currently at around 40- 50,000 pairs in Britain according to the BTO. Tawnies are specially adapted for hunting in woodland areas, where their short wings give them fantastic manoeuvrability. Although small mammals are their favoured prey, an amazing variety of prey species have been recorded in the tawny’s diet, ranging from small fish and lizards to worms and beetles to bats and moths. Tawny’s are relatively early nesters favouring holes in trees, but will readily adopt nest boxes. We were lucky enough to attract a pair on the edge of a small conifer plantation to a purpose built, Kestrel box (Hawk and Owl Trust’s Adopt a box Scheme Box No. 10480), having put it up in late spring 2015. Typical clutch size is 2-3 large white eggs; two were visible via the inspection camera installed, so as not to cause any unwanted disturbance. Tawny’s are known to be very protective towards their young, so the ringing will be interesting with extra protection needed.

Installing Kestrel and Owl Nest Boxes (December 2016) from South West Peregrine on Vimeo.

Box 10480 a new home for Kes
Box 10480 a new home for Kestrel’s or Tawny Owls in our case