The Trust's work - erecting nestboxes
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Importance of nestboxes
The provision of nestboxes for use by Barn Owls is one of the most important conservation measures and one of the easiest to implement. Across the UK a wide range of organisations and individuals have erected well over 25,500 Barn Owl nestboxes.
Loss of natural sites
To a large extent, Britain's Barn Owl population has become dependent on the provision and maintenance of nestboxes due to the lack of more natural sites. Nest and roost sites are lost through a wide variety of causes including the general deterioration of traditional farm buildings, unsympathetic barn conversions and loss of hollow trees due to Dutch Elm disease and the general ‘tidying up' of the countryside. Church towers are usually netted-off to prevent access by birds and modern farm buildings are generally unsuitable unless a nestbox is provided.
Barn Owl Trust staff began erecting nestboxes in 1984 and to date the Trust has erected well over 1,000. Many of these are targeted at occupied nest or roost sites that are under direct threat of loss, although we also provide them at unoccupied sites where there is good habitat for Barn Owls but no potential nesting place, or sites where habitat is being created.
There are three main types of Barn Owl nestbox, those suitable for erection inside agricultural or other buildings, those that can be erected in trees, and pole boxes. Each type has a different method of erection and is used for different situations. Advice on choosing the right nestbox design and on building and erecting owl nestboxes may be found by following the links on the right.
Because we have been dealing with Live Bird Emergency calls for over twenty years we are very aware of the problems caused by poor nestbox designs. Every year we receive numerous calls from people who have found nestling Barn Owls on the ground having fallen from the nest. Fallen young that are unable to get back into the nest usually die from neglect (unless people find them soon enough). Often these problems are caused (or made worse) because the nest-place is unsafe. This has prompted us to radically change our nestbox designs and we try to encourage other groups and manufacturers to modify theirs too.
We receive numerous requests from people who would like us to visit their site to see if it's a suitable place for a nestbox or erect one for them. Although we'd like to say "yes" to everyone, unfortunately we can't.
As a small charity, our resources are quite limited so we have to prioritise our site visits. Low priority cases often have to wait and we ask for our expenses to be covered. However, in the case of current nest sites under immediate threat we ignore the cost implications and concentrate on sorting the problem as fast as possible. We respond to many of the requests we get by providing information leaflets and advice over the phone. In fact, our leaflet no. 3 on indoor nestboxes is our most popular publication!