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Training Courses


These courses are aimed primarily at ecologists who conduct Barn Owl surveys at potential development sites and the planning officers who deal with such applications. However, a wide variety of people have attended over the years including listed building specialists, wildlife crime officers, FWAG (Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group) advisers, volunteer Barn Owl workers and students.

Please note: These courses are based on Barn Owls in the UK, however much of the information is also applicable globally.

Barn Owl Ecology, Surveys and Signs (BOESS)

An online foundation course covering Barn Owl ecology, legislation, surveying and basic mitigation. The certificate is accepted in lieu of one reference for the Class Licence application to Natural England or the Bird Survey licence application to NatureScot.

Advanced Barn Owl Surveying and Mitigation (ABOSM)

An online advanced course covering surveying, mitigation, and report preparation in much greater detail. This course is only available to people who have successfully completed BOESS as it builds on specific topics covered in the foundation course.

Barn Owl Ecology, Surveys and Signs (BOESS) course

Our foundation BOESS course has been running since 2005, with over 1,200 participants to date. We recommend allowing 10-15 hours to complete the online BOESS course.

What does the BOESS course cover?

  • Barn Owl ecology
  • Decline and conservation
  • Barn Owl protection, legislation and nest inspection licensing
  • Correct survey and search techniques
  • Interpretation of Barn Owl evidence
  • Health and Safety and risk assessments
  • Planning and mitigation strategies for Barn Owls

The course includes video footage from a working farm to examine genuine wild Barn Owl nest and roost sites.

What does the BOESS course include?

  • A copy of the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook*
  • Footage from a genuine wild Barn Owl site
  • A certificate of completion which acts as a reference towards gaining a Schedule 1 licence
  • Comprehensive training designed by knowledgeable and experienced staff
  • Successful completion of BOESS qualifies you to take the advanced (ABOSM) course
  • Ecologists who attend this course are entitled to be listed in the Barn Owl Directory



Advanced Barn Owl Surveying and Mitigation (ABOSM) course

***Please note that the online ABOSM course is currently under development.***

ABOSM was developed in 2011 following feedback from BOESS participants who wanted to gain a more in-depth knowledge of surveying and mitigation techniques. This course is only available to people who have successfully completed the BOESS course.

What does the ABOSM course cover?
This course is designed to offer participants further training and experience through remote surveys. There are two virtual field trips – one to improve Barn Owl surveying techniques and the second to take a practical look at good Barn Owl habitat, its management, and a Wildlife Tower. These are new sites not visited on the BOESS course. Modules include: advanced survey techniques, the formulation of mitigation strategies, recommendations, and reports.

What does the ABOSM course include?

  • Comprehensive training designed by knowledgeable and experienced staff
  • Two digital field trips to genuine wild Barn Owl sites/habitat
  • A certificate of attendance
  • In-depth course content, suitable for people who have completed BOESS
  • Ongoing support from the Barn Owl Trust
  • This advanced course is specifically designed for past participants of BOESS.

Register your interest in the ABOSM course

We will email you with details when the course is available

PLEASE NOTE: ABOSM is only available to people who have successfully completed the BOESS course.

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Feedback from online course participants

“I thought this was the best ecology-focused course I have done; it was interesting, informative, full of facts and the multiple test format was very challenging, which makes the passing of the course so much more rewarding.”

Rob Spencer

Ecologist, Green Lid Ecology

“The most well designed online ecology training course I have ever attended and I hope to return in future and attend the online advanced course when it is made available… Will be recommending to all my fellow ecologists”

“Thank you for a brilliant course! It’s not only informative, but empowering to surveyors in instilling confidence and clear guidelines to allow us to support the recovery and resilience of the UK barn owl population (and the species they are connected to).”

Amy Wardle


“I very much enjoyed it. Excellent learning material, well structured and very thorough.”

Ric Miller

Ecologist, Helm Ecology

“The whole course was very well thought out and flowed very well throughout. I actually think the highlight is been able to watch videos again as well as completing sections at your own leisure. Obviously not a complete substitute for face to face learning but as the guy at the beginning says – ‘Less carbon footprint – what’s not to like!’. I genuinely believe you have an amazing product in this course, I would absolutely recommend it and may even book onto the Advanced course at some point.”

“It is good value for money. I have been assistant on BO surveys or a long time and have still learnt a lot about Barn Owls.”

“The online BOESS was well presented with video training & test questions after each section. I was able to follow the various modules with the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook. I found the course very interesting and clear. I liked the setup of the training – that I could login/resume the training to suit me. Key points/issues were made clear and I’m keen to put what I’ve learnt into practice.”

“This was a well thought through course that worked remarkable well online. I am very pleased with the outcome of the course”

Feedback from the previously in-person courses

“The two day course at the barn owl trust was the best course I have ever been on. I was greeted with a friendly welcome from the staff as I arrived, then followed a wealth of knowledge from the team that was brought to life with their passion for barn owls and conservation. Both days were well structured with classroom and practical field learning, enabling you to practice what you have learnt straight away and apply it to real sites supporting barn owls. The course gave me the skills and knowledge to leave the course confident in my ability to undertake barn owl surveys and talk to prospective clients about projects that may impact barn owls. I like to thank the team again for such a great course and fantastic food.”

Sam Smith

Ecologist, Mott MacDonald

“A fantastic course… I would highly recommend” – See a review of the course by Martin O’Connor – an ecologist formerly from Arbtech ecological surveyors.

“The combination of high quality trainers, venues, administration and supporting resources, along with thoughtful design and passionate delivery, allow the BOESS and ABOSM courses to achieve normally difficult balances among ecological, conservation and development concerns.
Underpinned by theory and grounded in practice and pragmatism, this expert training qualifies attendees as professional barn owl surveyors. It should be regarded as a mandatory industry standard for anyone whose work is related to the conservation of this species, not least because minimisation of disturbance is the guiding principal.
Furthermore, it potentially delivers enormous value to public and private end clients by equipping participants to ensure that developments comply with or exceed the requirements of legislative and policy frameworks. Practitioners graduate with the skills and “ammunition” to survey and design mitigation with professionalism and confidence. Interested amateurs can gain a whole new understanding of the species and how they may contribute to its protection. Heartily recommended.”

Dr Chris Coles

Coles Development Consulting