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25 February 2013

Sure signs of Kestrels

Kestrels will often roost in modern barns and ruined buildings, as well as trees and on cliffs, spending the night perched high on a beam or other sheltered perch or ledge. Modern barns are often used, and during our Kestrel Survey, we examine any suitable (preferably little-used or disused) farm building, like this one above in Co. Kerry, to look for signs of their presence...

...and here it is... 

The photo shows an area of 'whitewash' on the ground, the distinctive 'chalky' droppings of birds of prey, below a high perch in the disused barn. And scattered around, the small, distinctive pellets which Kestrels regurgitate a few times a day. When broken open, they contain the indigestible remains of their prey, mostly fur and bones from mice and shrews, and often beetle wing cases. A nest box placed in this barn has a very good chance of being seen by the local Kestrels, and hopefully they will take to nesting in it this summer.

18 February 2013

Stopping the Jackdaws

At some sites in Ireland, Jackdaws can be a real problem when placing nest boxes for Barn Owls. They also nest in cavities, and once they find one they like, will line it with sticks until the size of the cavity is to their liking. They are such industrious stick collectors that they will quickly fill a large nest box cavity until there is just room for their nest and little more. This renders it useless to Barn Owls. Thankfully this has only happened at one of our sites so far, and if Barn Owls move in, only the most foolhardy of Jackdaws would go near it (see an example of this on this page HERE.

Although we normally recommend the type of nest box shown on this page HERE, there are one or two sites where a specially adapted box can be used to thwart Jackdaws. The double entrance on this box means the Jackdaws have trouble manoeuvring large sticks around the corners and into the main chamber, and the high second entrance also means that if the Jackdaws put sticks into the first, smaller chamber, the second will not be blocked. It seems to work!

This box was placed high in the rafters of a derelict school in Co. Kerry, last week. The design should deter any interested Jackdaws, and the outer covering of tarpaper will help keep out the elements in this rather exposed site. The rest is up to the Barn Owls...

(Photos: M.O'Clery).

15 February 2013

A helping hand

Landowners and farmers are vital to the success of the Duhallow Project, and without exception, we have received nothing but friendliness and cooperation during our work. Joe, pictured below, not only allowed us to place a Barn Owl box in one of his barns last week, but showed us to two other ideal sites, such as the derelict house above (Photos: M.O'Clery).

12 February 2013

Getting ready

Spring is on it's way, and we are gearing up for the 2013 breeding season. There is still time for putting up nest boxes, and five more Barn Owl boxes were installed during the week.

Disused barn in Duhallow, now containing a Barn Owl nest box (Photos: M.O'Clery).

Two boxes were placed in Kerry and three in cork, and they were installed in disused barns (including the one pictured above), an old piggery shed and a derelict house.