Text Only Version | Accessibility Information and Accesskeys | Skip navigation

The Barn Owl Trust

Conserving the Barn Owl and its Environment

Watch us on Youtube Follow us on Twitter Join us on Facebook Live Barnowl webcam direct from a barnowl nestbox at our Owl Sanctuary

Popular topics

How to encourage wild Barn Owls


Why encourage Barn Owls?

  • The presence of Barn Owls indicates a healthy environment.

  • Where Barn Owls nest successfully this is a sign that the local ecosystem is balanced, varied, and capable of supporting a top predator in the food chain.

  • The absence of successful Barn Owls on lowland UK farmland suggests that vital wildlife habitats are missing, there's a lack of suitable nest sites, and/or too many man-made hazards.

  • Barn Owls are included on the UK Government Farmland Bird Index as an indicator of Sustainable Development and farmland 'health'.
RG narrow2

Manage land for Barn Owls

· The best foraging habitat is rough grassland with a high population of Field Voles – the Barn Owls’ main prey.

· If you manage land in the countryside, the best way to encourage Barn Owls is to increase their food supply by creating strips or patches of rough tussocky grassland at least 4m wide, with a litter layer of dead grass, at least 7cm deep. About Barn Owl habitat

· Barn Owls in Britain hunt over open fields - mainly low-land farmland – they are not woodland or urban birds. Find out if your area is suitable

Comprehensive information about habitat creation is in the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook.Chris Packham (BBC) says “if ever there was a book to save a species, this is it”.

NB narrow

Provide a roosting and nesting place:

· Nestboxes: Well designed and well positioned Barn Owl nestboxes are perfect places for them to hide, roost, and nest.

· Where’s the best place to put up a nest box: in a building, on a tree, or on a pole?

· Build a Barn Owl box yourself with free plans and instructions.

· Buy a Barn Owl nestbox direct from the Barn Owl Trust.

· A lot of nestbox designs are far from ideal. If you are thinking of getting a box from another supplier please check it against our Nestbox Design Criteria

· Barn conversions, new build etc. How to build-in a permanent space for Barn Owls

· A Wildlife Tower can accommodate Barn Owls, other birds, and a variety of bats and other wildlife.

More information about nestboxes and built-in nesting spaces in the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook. Ian Carter (Natural England) says “this volume is the definitive guide”.

BO dead p

Avoid using Rat Poison (rodenticides)

· 84-91% of wild Barn Owls contain rat poison. Some die as a direct result, while low-level contamination may affect hunting and breeding success.

· How to control rats as safely as possible

· Support our Rodenticide Campaign to establish a principal of Last Resort Use for the strongest poisons, get preventative baiting banned, and product labelling improved.


Offer extra food in bad weather

If your local Barn Owl roosts in a building or box, you may be able to offer a temporary extra food supply during periods of severe weather. However there is little point in placing dead food items outdoors.
Find out more about feeding wild Barn Owls.


Buy the products of wildlife-friendly farming

· Foods produced by intensive farming methods are generally bad for wildlife.

· Choose products from organic farms and/or from local growers that encourage wildlife.

· Look for these symbols Conservation Grade, Fair to Nature, Nature-friendly Farming, Farming for Wildlife, Soil Association, Organic.


Help your local Barn Owl Group

Most counties have an independent voluntary Barn Owl Group or an individual actively involved in Barn Owl conservation. Some of these seek public support and welcome new helpers. To find out who is active in your area please contact the Barn Owl Trust.


Start your own Barn Owl Project

The Barn Owl Trust was founded on the work of one couple who, in 1984, started visiting farms in their area to see if they had resident Barn Owls. They erected nestboxes, and talked to farmers about habitat creation and safer rodent control. You could do the same! Before you begin it’s a good idea to contact the Barn Owl Trust to find out if anyone is already doing similar work in your area.

Everything you need to know about Barn Owls in order to run your project is in the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook. Mike Toms (BTO) says “this book is upbeat and practical…accessible to readers from a wealth of backgrounds”.


Object to damaging rural developments

· Barn Owl nests and roost sites are often unnecessarily destroyed because of poor planning.

· Careful development with provision for Barn Owls can help protect and secure the long-term future of a nest site. How to find out if all the right things are being done

· Detailed guidance for architects, planners and developers is available in the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook and the Planners Guide (currently under review).


Help minimise climate change

· Barn Owls die in prolonged cold weather and fail to nest, or produce less young in wet summers.

· Exceptionally cold or long winters and wet summers have recently caused a massive decline in numbers.

· If frequent extreme weather events continue, Barn Owl numbers will fall even further.

· Ways to minimise our ‘carbon footprint’.


Support the Barn Owl Trust

· The Barn Owl Trust is a very small charity working hard to ‘Conserve the Barn Owl and its Environment’.

· The Barn Owl Trust receives no government funding and does not have a wealthy patron or benefactor – in order to carry on with our work, we are reliant on your generous support.

· Please Become a Friend of the Barn Owl Trust, Adopt a Barn Owl, or Leave a Legacy to help ‘the bringer of dreams’. Thank you.

The Barn Owl Trust is dedicated to conservation & education and does not operate a visitor centre.
Barn Owl Trust staff and volunteers
Waterleat, Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7HU
+44 (0) 1364 653026