As part of my role as Assistant Ecologist combined with the compensation for roosts lost through development, two barn owl nest boxes were erected at Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park. Danny Thomas, Riverdale Ecology Ltd, a volunteer bird ringer, who holds a Schedule 1 disturbance licence for species including barn owls and a ringing licence through the British Trust for Ornithology, led the checks.
In August of this year, the second year of post development monitoring, Danny and I visited the Burial Park to determine if the barn owl nest boxes were being used. We are incredibly pleased to announce that a female was seen leaving one of the boxes and at the time of the visit four seemingly healthy chicks were present inside this box. The barn owl chicks were too young to ring so we planned a return visit a few weeks later to ring the adult and chicks. Most barn owls are ringed as nestlings at three to seven weeks old and this provides important information that underpins conservation work for owls.
The presence of barn owls is a good indicator of the health of biodiversity. The range of habitats needed by the species is also vital for a wide range of other animals. Barn owls require large areas of rough grassland foraging habitat within 2km of their nesting site. The Burial Park’s long grassland areas provide some of the large area of suitable foraging habitat required. These areas are more likely to support small mammal prey, such as rats, mice, voles and shrews.
We visited the nest boxes approximately one month later to find three chicks remaining. Danny managed to ring one of the barn owl chicks. We will hopefully see the continued use of this box by barn owls in the future.