Endangered barn owl chicks weighed and counted

A six week old barn owl chick being weighed and tagged in the South Downs National Park.
A six week old barn owl chick being weighed and tagged in the South Downs National Park.

Two barn owl chicks have been weighed and ringed at a secret location in the South Downs National Park.

The six week old chicks, thought to be one male and one female, weighed 290g and 380g respectively. More than 220 barn owl boxes have now been installed across the South Downs by the National Park Authority and the South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service. The boxes are now being surveyed and any chicks found are then tagged as part of a national scheme to monitor and protect the birds. A special license is required to do this and their locations are being kept secret to prevent them being disturbed.

Barn owls experienced a large decline over the 20th century and although numbers have stabilised since the mid-1990s the British Trust for Ornithology estimates that only about 4,000 breeding pairs remain in the UK. They are on the amber list of UK birds of conservation concern.

Angela Ward, South Downs National Park Ranger said: “Barn Owls can struggle to find homes because they like to nest in holes in large old trees and accessible barns and there are less of these around than there used to be. Our volunteers have been busy making barn owl boxes and we’re putting them up in suitable spots all over the South Downs National Park.

“It was a pleasure to meet some of the National Park’s newest residents looking so healthy.”

Landowners in the South Downs who would like to have a barn owl box installed on their land can get in touch with the National Park Authority’s ranger team to arrange an assessment visit via: www.southdowns.gov.uk/communities/support-for-you/area-ranger-teams

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