Current UK Barn Owl population

How many Barn Owls are there in the UK?

Nobody knows. 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.

Note: Results for 2016 should be available in January 2017

2015

The most up-to-date figures for the UK Barn Owl population are in State Of The UK Barn Owl Population 2015 which, 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:

SOUKBOP Cover 2015Barn 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

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:

SOUKBOP 2014

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

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%.

Projects Barn Owl Trust Uk ReportData was kindly provided by the following groups:

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 was updated 3 times in 2014 and may be updated again as more information becomes available.