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30 October 2012

New nest boxes installed

As part of the Duhallow Raptor Conservation Project additional nest boxes for Kestrels and Barn Owls are now being installed at carefully selected sites throughout Duhallow. By putting them in place in late autumn, it is hoped that birds will see and investigate them over the winter months, and perhaps nest in them next spring.

Newly installed Kestrel nest box in Duhallow, October 2012.

Another Kestrel nest box now in place in Duhallow. 

Kestrel boxes are best placed in a reasonably prominent spot, where the birds have a clear flight path to the entrance. They also need to be at least 10 feet (3m) above ground, preferably higher, to lessen the risk of ground predators such as Pine Marten or cats from climbing up to them.

A new Barn Owl nest box installed in an upper floor of an old shed in Duhallow. Although placed inside a building, there are a number of important considerations to be met at each site. The site with the box should be free of disturbance, the box should be at least 9 feet (3m) from the ground) and there must be clear access into and out of the building. In this case, three open windows provide access and any owl arriving at the window would immediately see the box (all photos by Michael O'Clery).

For nest box designs and tips for installing them, see this page HERE

2 October 2012

Duhallow chick found dead

Mortality of young Barn Owls, like all bird species, is highest in the first few months of life. Unfortunately, we received news of the demise of one of three chicks, ringed at a tree nest site near Newmarket this summer. The young female was found dead near Kanturk yesterday, only about 10km from where she was born. The cause of death is unknown, but she had been dead for some time.

 Young Barn Owl, after being ringed at the Newmarket site in July this year (M.O'Clery).

In studies in England, young Barn Owls rarely move more than a few tens of kilometres from their birthplace, but in Ireland we are only beginning to learn about their movements. We have already seen an unprecedented 80 km movement of a ringed, mature female in Duhallow (see this post HERE), and there has been a series of other unusual movements recorded so far in the national ringing scheme, so we have much to learn about how fledgling Barn Owls disperse from their nest sites in Ireland. The death of this bird will add a little more to out knowledge about their lives, and hopefully about how best to protect them into the future.