Our sanctuary - a place of peaceful retreat
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Visits by appointment only- Sorry, but we are not open to the general public.
The Barn Owl Trust sanctuary is situated in a quiet wooded valley on the edge of Dartmoor near Ashburton, Devon. The site has been the base for the Barn Owl Trust since its inception in 1988 and consists of our offices that are manned by dedicated staff and volunteers, ten aviaries and a purpose built bird room where casualties are treated. Although there has been some expansion to help increase the numbers of birds we can accommodate, the area is largely unchanged and is an idyllic place for us to work, and for owls to recuperate.
We also encourage numerous other wildlife species to our site and have a number of bustling bird tables situated around the outside of the office. These attract a range of bird species from blue tits to woodpeckers, as well as cheeky peanut-stealing squirrels.
A stream runs close to the offices and this has a resident pair of dippers. There is also a clay pond, originally created to provide nest material for swallows, which has attracted common frogs and is full of tadpoles in the spring!
Our aviaries house owls for a variety of reasons. Some are re-homed captive-bred birds, which are a growing problem due to the numbers of birds bred unthinkingly in captivity; others are wild owls, which arrived here with injuries too severe to be re-released. One of the aviaries has an extra special occupant: Baley, the tame captive-bred owl that voluntarily attends our school visits.
In 2010 a group of thirty-two apprentices from Western Power Distribution spent four days at the Trust as their Community Project. They undertook two major projects one of which was the building of a new aviary to replace two that we had demolished earlier in the year. A few days later the forty-five new residents arrived from a sanctuary that was closing down. You can see the story unfold in pictures by selecting the link to our aviary building slideshow.
The Trust runs an adoption scheme for our permanent residents, which helps to ensure that we can give them the best lifestyle possible whilst they are in our care.
The real success stories of the sanctuary are those wild owls that have been found injured or starving by members of the public and are going through a rehabilitation process prior to being released back into the wild. Over the years, the Barn Owl Trust has aided in the return to the wild of a range of birds including Barn Owls, Tawny Owls, Little Owls and a variety of other birds of prey, although the latter are often passed on to other sanctuaries with expertise in these species. There is more information on this topic in the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook
Whatever the reason for their time here, owls at the Barn Owl Trust can enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the site, and be safe in the knowledge that they are being cared for by people who are passionate about owls. We don't operate a visitors centre (ours is a genuine sanctuary), but we do have a live web-cam set up in one of our aviaries. You may like to take a look at the links opposite!