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19 July 2012

Could NAMA help Barn Owls?

Why on earth have we posted a photo of the gable end of an unfinished house? 

Is this one of the many unfinished 'NAMA estates' or apartments that litter the Irish countryside after the property bubble burst so spectacularly? Well, this particular house in Duhallow has a slightly different history and remained incomplete following the untimely death of its owner about 2 years ago, but in the meantime, some unexpected tenants have moved in... 
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Adult Barn Owl, Duhallow, 18th July 2012 (Photo: F.O'Sullivan).

The Barn Owl in the photo is one of the adults of a pair which nested in the building this summer. The photo shows one at the roost site entrance yesterday morning at 6.00am. The nest entrance was on the opposite side of the same gable, in a similar hole, and contained at least 2 well-developed young, probably around 50-55 days old. They should be ready to take their first flight any day now, and we hope to ring the nestlings soon, before they depart.

While surveying for Barn Owls, there is of course a need to search disused and derelict buildings and ruins, but this is the first time a nest has been discovered in Ireland in a new, unfinished, building. Could there be other Barn Owl nests in some of the many houses and estates that lie idle throughout Ireland? We will obviously have to look harder at these types of building in the future.