ARCHIVE: Set-aside and Environmental Benefits

Barn Owls

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The Barn Owl is also called the Screech Owl or White Owl. They are useful on farm and are protected by Law. The decline of the barn owl's habitat in the United Kingdom continues to be a problem as a result of road construction schemes, land drainage and the loss of farm buildings. However, barn owls have been helped by set-aside. This has resulted in more unploughed field edges, which is good news for barn owls. Unfortunately, most of these set-aside strips are unlikely to be permanent and so this increase in population may not be sustainable.

Breeding density in barn owls has been shown to be proportional to length of hedgerow, line of trees and woodland edge, and so development of set-aside around these features may help the farmland barn owl population to recover.

Barn owls in favorable habitats produce large broods once or twice a year. Each young owl as it nears maturity will eat the equivalent of a dozen mice per night if such prey is available. Adult barn owls kill and consume the equivalent of one large rat per night.

Over three-quarters of the UK's breeding barn owls occur in England - but because 90 per cent of English farms use rodenticides, there is every chance that the owls may feed on the poisoned rodents. Encouragement of these birds should mean less rodenticides are needed.

Barn owls like to nest in tree holes but barns and other old buildings or purpose built platforms can also be attractive.

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