The magnificent sight of a swooping barn owl was once familiar across the Broads, and its surrounding villages, however this has become increasingly uncommon.
Many traditional barn owl roosting and nesting sites in farm buildings and old trees have been lost over the years due to barn conversions and tree disease. This combined with a loss of prey rich rough grassland hunting habitat has resulted in a decline in barn owl numbers.
The Broads Barn Owl Project aims to conserve and increase local barn owl and kestrel numbers in the Broads area.
The Broads Authority, in partnership with the Hawk & Owl Trust has provided fifty barn owl and kestrel nest boxes to landowners with suitable rough grassland areas. Both barn owl and kestrel readily use nest boxes, so maintaining these in the future will help ensure healthy breeding populations.
The project also aims to provide landowners with advice on how to manage their grassland to support healthy numbers of voles and mice, the favourite prey of barn owl and kestrel.
The nest boxes will be monitored annually to determine occupancy and breeding success. For more information and advice please download the barn owl project leaflet, or contact the Broads Authority ecologist on 01603 610734.
The project has recently benefited from the Love the Broads visitor giving scheme, which has funded the purchase of 17 barn owl nesting boxes. Visitors contributing to this scheme have also match funded (along with the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership), an education pack for schools about barn owls. The school pack for 9-12-year-olds will focus on barn owl ecology and conservation.