Current UK Barn Owl population

How many Barn Owls are there in the UK?

Nobody knows for sure. There’s only ever been one reliable UK Barn Owl population estimate – almost 4,000 pairs (+/- 30%) in 1995-1997 (Toms et al. 2000). In the absence of a more recent national survey, the annual State of the UK Barn Owl Population reports presented below provide the most up to date overview.

Information on UK Barn Owl numbers prior to 2013 can be found in the page Past UK Barn Owl Population.


2018 Barn Owl numbers

2018 figures are in our report: State Of The UK Barn Owl Population–2018. They are based on information provided by 37 independent monitoring groups and include results from a wider area of Dumfries and Galloway than has been possible in previous years.

Overall 2018 was a poor year, with few exceptions. The only groups that recorded an unusually high number of nesting pairs were in Shropshire and Staffordshire. All other results were more or less within the range of typical variation, although on the whole they were quite discouraging in terms of both nesting pairs and brood sizes.

State of the UK Barn Owl Population – 2018

Data for this report was kindly provided by the following groups:

Barn Owl Trust
Brandon Ringing Group
Broxton Barn Owl Group
Bucks Owl & Raptor Group
Cam Valley Wildlife Group
Dumfries and Galloway Raptor Study Group
East Cheshire Barn Owl Group
East Riding Barn Owl Conservation Group
Essex Wildlife Trust
Gil Gaylor
Glamorgan Barn Owl Group
Gloucestershire Barn Owl Monitoring Programme
Jersey Barn Owl Conservation
Lewis Raptor & Owl Group
Manchester Raptor Group
Merseryside Ringing Group
Mid Cheshire Barn Owl Conservation Group
Middle Thames Ringing Group
North Cheshire Barn Owl Group
North-east Cheshire Barn Owl Group
North West Norfolk Ringing Group
Philip Hanmer; Natural History Society of Northumbria (Hancock Museum) Ringing Group
Powys Species Habitat Protection Group
Shropshire Barn Owl Group
South Cheshire 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 – Dr. Barrie Watson
Sussex Ornithological Society – Graham Roberts
Thornham Owl Project
Ulster Wildlife
Vale of Belvoir Barn Owl Conservation Group
West Berkshire Countryside Society Barn Owl Group
West Cornwall Ringing Group
Wirral Barn Owl Trust


2017 Barn Owl numbers

2017 figures are in our report: State of the UK Barn Owl population 2017 based on results provided by 38 independent monitoring groups including new data contributors in Cheshire and Glamorgan.

Overall 2017 was a good year for Barn Owls but with some notable exceptions. Across most of England and into mid Wales Barn Owls had a generally good to very good year. However, Barn Owls had a relatively poor year in West Galloway, West Cornwall, and the Isle of Wight. Those on Jersey experienced a very poor year and in Northern Ireland Barn Owls are still very scarce.

Data was kindly provided by the following groups - click to open:

Barn Owl Trust
Bisham Barn Owl Group
Brandon Ringing Group
Broxton Barn Owl Group
Bucks Owl Raptor Group
Cam Valley Wildlife Group
East Cheshire Barn Owl Group
East Riding Barn Owl Conservation Group
Essex Wildlife Trust
Garry Steele
Gil Gaylor
Glamorgan Barn Owl Group
Gloucestershire Barn Owl Monitoring Programme
Jersey Barn Owl Conservation
Lewis Raptor & Owl Group
Manchester Raptor Group
Merseryside Ringing Group
Mid Cheshire Barn Owl Conservation Group
North Cheshire Barn Owl Group
North-east Cheshire Barn Owl Group
North West Norfolk Ringing Group
Philip Hanmer; Natural History Society of Northumbria (Hancock Museum) Ringing Group
Powys Species Habitat Protection Group
Scottish Raptor Study Group
Shropshire Barn Owl Group
South Cheshire 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
Thornham Owl Project
Ulster Wildlife
West Berkshire Countryside Society Barn Owl Group
West Cornwall Ringing Group
Wirral Barn Owl Trust
Wolds Barn Owl Group


2016 Barn Owl numbers

The State of the UK Barn Owl Population 2016 report shows that, overall, 2016 was a poor year in most areas but generally better in the west of England.

The data received from 32 monitoring schemes checking 6,058 nest sites shows that the number of nesting pairs in the UK in 2016 was 6% below the all-years average and the average number of young in the nest was 7% below. Barn Owls had a poor to very poor year in South West and South England, Jersey, North Norfolk, parts of Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire, parts of Powys in Wales and West Galloway in Scotland. Conversely, Barn Owls in the west of England (from Cheshire down to Buckinghamshire), and in North Northumberland, Suffolk, and the Isle of Wight had a quite good to good year.

Data was kindly provided by the following groups - click to open:

Barn 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
Essex Wildlife Trust
Garry Steele
Gil Gaylor
Gloucestershire Barn Owl Monitoring Programme
Jersey Barn Owl Conservation
Lewis Raptor & Owl Group
Manchester Raptor Group
North West Norfolk Ringing Group
Philip Hanmer
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
Thornham Owl Project
Ulster Wildlife
Vale of Bevoir Barn Owl Conservation
West Berkshire Countryside Society Barn Owl Group
West Cornwall Ringing Group
Wolds Barn Owl Group
World Owl Trust


2015 Barn Owl numbers

The State Of The UK Barn Owl Population 2015 report, 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 - click to open:

Barn 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 Barn Owl numbers

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 - click to open:

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 Barn Owl numbers

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%.

Data was kindly provided by the following groups - click to open:

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 may be updated as more information becomes available.

UK Barn Owl population news

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