Current UK Barn Owl population

How many Barn Owls are there in the UK?

Nobody knows for sure. The last UK survey (Toms et al. 2000) estimated there were almost 4,000 pairs (+/- 30%) in 1995-1997. All estimates produced since then are guesswork based on the annual monitoring of potential nest sites which, in itself, is not a reliable way of assessing overall population level. About population monitoring.

2016 Barn Owl numbers

The most up-to-date figures for the UK Barn Owl population are in our report: State of the UK Barn Owl Population 2016 which has new contributors. Overall, 2016 was a poor year in most areas but generally better in the west of England.

The data received from 32 monitoring schemes checking 6,058 nest sites shows that the number of nesting pairs in the UK in 2016 was 6% below the all-years average and the average number of young in the nest was 7% below. Barn Owls had a poor to very poor year in South West and South England, Jersey, North Norfolk, parts of Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire, parts of Powys in Wales and West Galloway in Scotland. Conversely, Barn Owls in the west of England (from Cheshire down to Buckinghamshire), and in North Northumberland, Suffolk, and the Isle of Wight had a quite good to good year.

Data was kindly provided by the following groups:

Barn Owl Trust
Bisham Barn Owl Group
Brandon Ringing Group
Bucks Owl Raptor Group
Cam Valley Wildlife Group
Cheshire Barn Owl Groups
East Riding Barn Owl Conservation Group
Essex Wildlife Trust
Garry Steele
Gil Gaylor
Gloucestershire Barn Owl Monitoring Programme
Jersey Barn Owl Conservation
Lewis Raptor & Owl Group
Manchester Raptor Group
North West Norfolk Ringing Group
Philip Hanmer
Powys Species Habitat Protection Group
Scottish Raptor Study Group
Shropshire Barn Owl Group
South Warwickshire Barn Owl Survey
Staffordshire Barn Owl Action Group
Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group
Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project
Sussex Ornithological Society – Barrie Watson
Sussex Ornithological Society – Graham Roberts
Thornham Owl Project
Ulster Wildlife
Vale of Bevoir Barn Owl Conservation
West Berkshire Countryside Society Barn Owl Group
West Cornwall Ringing Group
Wolds Barn Owl Group
World Owl Trust

2015 Barn Owl numbers

The State Of The UK Barn Owl Population 2015 report, for the first time, includes information from Northern Ireland. Overall, 2015 was a poor year for Barn Owls almost everywhere.

The checking of 5,963 potential nest sites by 32 independent groups across the UK revealed that the number of nesting pairs was 26% below average and the average number of young in nests was 18% below average. However, the number of nests was slightly to moderately above average in Manchester, Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Suffolk. The only areas where mean brood size was above normal were West Cornwall and Somerset. The generally poor results were attributed largely to a lack of food rather than the weather.

Data was kindly provided by the following groups - click to open:

Barn Owl Trust
Bisham Barn Owl Group
Brandon Ringing Group
Bucks Owl Raptor Group
Cam Valley Wildlife Group
Cheshire Barn Owl Groups
East Riding Barn Owl Conservation Group
Garry Steele
Gil Gaylor
Gwyn Roberts
Hawk and Owl Trust
Jersey Barn Owl Conservation Network
Lewis Raptor & Owl Group
Lower Derwent Valley NNR Barn Owl Group
Manchester Raptor Group
North Cumbria Barn Owl Study Group
North West Norfolk Ringing Group
Pang Valley Barn Owl Group
Powys Species Habitat Protection Group
Scottish Raptor Study Group
Shropshire Barn Owl Group
South Warwickshire Barn Owl Survey
Staffordshire Barn Owl Action Group
Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group
Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project
Sussex Ornithological Society – Barrie Watson
Sussex Ornithological Society – Graham Roberts
Ulster Wildlife
Vale Barn Owl Conservation
West Cornwall Ringing Group
Wolds Barn Owl Group
World Owl Trust

2014 Barn Owl numbers

2014 was an exceptionally good year for Barn Owls almost everywhere in the UK. The checking of 6,558 potential nest sites by 25 independent groups across the UK revealed that the number of nesting pairs was 16% above average and average number of young in nests was 35% higher than the all-years average. See State of the UK Barn Owl population 2014.

Data was kindly provided by the following groups - click to open:

Barn Owl Trust
Bowden and Ball Ringing Group
Brandon Ringing Group
Cam Valley Wildlife Group
East Riding Barn Owl Conservation Group
Cheshire Barn Owl Conservation Groups
Hawk and Owl Trust
Gil Gaylor (Isle of Wight)
Imber Conservation Group
Manchester Raptor Group
Montgomeryshire Barn Owl Group
NW Norfolk Ringing Group
Pang Valley Barn Owl Group
Powys Species Habitat Protection Group
Scottish Raptor Study Group
Shropshire Barn Owl Group
Staffordshire Barn Owl Action Group
Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group
South Warwickshire Barn Owl Survey
Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project
Sussex Ornithological Society – Barrie Watson
Sussex Ornithological Society – Graham Roberts
Vale of Belvoir Barn Owl Conservation
West Cornwall Ringing Group
Wolds Barn Owl Group

2013 Barn Owl numbers

2013 was an extremely poor year for Barn Owls – described as ‘the worst year since records began‘. This prompted the Barn Owl Trust to collate results from 26 independent Barn Owl monitoring groups around the UK and produce State of the UK Barn Owl Population 2013.

All groups reported a drop in the number of breeding pairs. The drop in numbers varied from a 24% decline to 100%. The overall drop in nesting occupancy was 70%.

Data was kindly provided by the following groups - click to open:

Alan Ball, Bob Sheppard, G Steele (south Lincs.)
Barn Owl Trust
Barrie Watson (West Sussex)
Buckinghamshire Owl Raptor Group
Cam Valley Wildlife Group
Cheshire Barn Owl Groups
Hawk and Owl Trust – Chris Sperring
East Riding Barn Owl Conservation Group
Imber Conservation Group
James Gloyn & Gil Gaylor (Isle of Wight)
Jersey Barn Owl Conservation Network
Lower Derwent Valley NNR Barn Owl Group
Manchester Raptor Group
Montgomeryshire Barn Owl Group
North Cumbria Barn Owl Study Group
Northamptonshire Barn Owl Project
NW Norfolk Ringing Group
Pang Valley Barn Owl Group
Scottish Raptor Study Group
Shropshire Barn Owl Group
Staffordshire Barn Owl Action Group
Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group/South Warwickshire Barn Owl Survey
Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project
Suffolk Owl Sanctuary – Thornham Owl Project
Vale of Belvoir Barn Owl Conservation Group (VBOC)
West Cornwall Ringing Group
Wolds Barn Owl Group

*Please note that the ‘State of the UK Barn Owl Population‘ is a Living Document which may be updated as more information becomes available.

UK Barn Owl population news

Back to top