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Report a dead and/or ringed owl

Please report all Barn Owl nests, roost sites, and sightings (dead or alive), anywhere in the UK, on our Barn Owl Survey website. Thank you.

What type of owl is it?

On discovering a dead owl there are two main things you need to try and find out. What species of owl it is, and does it have a small ring on one of its ankles?

What type of ring is it?

There are three different types of ring that the owl might have fitted:

Major Road Barn Owl Bto Ring
  • British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) ring
    A silver-coloured metal ring fitted around the ankle of a wild bird with a unique number inscribed on it and the words ‘INFORM BRITISH MUSEUM NAT HIST LONDON, SW7′.
BAROW Ring Closed [Julie Matthews] 230307 (A)
  • Closed ring
    A continuous alloy band fitted around the ankle of a captive bird with individual numbers imprinted on it. Captive owls may also be micro-chipped.
BAROW Ring [unknown] 210202 (B)
  • Plastic colour rings
    One or more plastic rings of almost any colour fitted around the ankle(s) of both wild and captive birds.

Who do I contact?

Once you have established what type of ring it is you now need to know who to contact and what information to report:

Unringed dead owls do need to be species-identified and should be reported to your county record centre; this might be called the biological or biodiversity record centre, or can be found through your county council or your county wildlife trust.

Also see the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) website for a summary of ways to report UK wildlife sightings.

If you think there is anything suspicious about the cause of death of the owl (for example poisoning or avian flu) then it should also be reported to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Please be aware of hygiene if handling dead birds and always wash your hands afterwards. If you are going to preserve the owl for a while and freeze it make sure that it is well wrapped up in carrier bags or sealed in an airtight container.

What information should I report?

When you report the finding of an owl you should give details of:

  • The ring number (if any)
  • Exactly where it was found (a map reference if possible)
  • If found on a road, the road number (e.g. A38)
  • Date found
  • What species it is (if you know)
  • Whether freshly dead or not
  • Other relevant information about the bird or the finding circumstances
  • Your name and contact details

What should I do with the carcass?

The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology runs the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS), which is a long-term national monitoring scheme looking at levels of contaminants in raptor species. To help with their research, they would like to receive any dead birds of prey that are found by the public.

Please telephone the PBMS team on 01524 595830 or email



If you find a perfect specimen and you want to have it stuffed you should freeze it in an airtight container to avoid freezer-burn and don’t wrap anything around it that may bend the tips of its wing or tail feathers. Birds that have growing feathers (young ones or adults in the period March to October) are generally less suitable for taxidermy. Retain evidence that the owl died by accident, for example, take a picture of the owl where it was found. You must use a taxidermist who has a current licence issued by DEFRA.


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