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2 September 2013

Initial results of the 2013 Duhallow Barn Owl Survey

As field work for the 2013 Barn Owl breeding season winds down, the results of the monitoring of known nest sites makes for rather gloomy reading. All known sites in Duhallow were monitored and/or visited during the season, often many times. Full and detailed results will be posted here soon, but a summary of results to date are as follows: 

Nest productivity

Duhallow 2013 – Total 21 sites – 3 pairs nested – 6 chicks.
Average chicks per nest - 2.0.

By far the poorest breeding season to date, and the number of chicks produced per active nest in Duhallow (2.0) was a little below average. The corresponding figures for Duhallow in 2012 were:

Duhallow 2012 - Total 20 sites - 13 pairs nested - 20 chicks.
Average chicks per nest - 2.16.

A Duhallow Barn Owl site where birds nested in 2012, but not in 2013 (Photo: M.O'Clery).

A site in Kerry which shared several aspects with other Barn Owl sites around the country during the 2013 breeding season – a pair present, the nest site secure and undisturbed, but birds didn't nest. Courtship between the pair continued well into August before petering out late in the month (Photo: M.O'Clery).

Nest occupancy

Of the 21 Duhallow known nest sites, only one was apparently abandoned, with no activity detected there for at least a year. Of the 18 sites in Duhallow where breeding didn't take place, pairs of owls were known to be still present at 10, at least one owl was still present at 6, and recent activity was detected at 1 other.

The high number of sites still occupied by Barn Owls is encouraging despite the poor breeding season.

A male and female Barn Owl caught and ringed at another site in Kerry. Although the signs were good all through the spring, they failed to breed (Photo: M.O'Clery).

Duhallow Raptor Conservation Project
The Duhallow Raptor Conservation Project is funded by IRD Duhallow through the Leader Programme 2007 - 2013.

Barn Owl monitoring in Kerry
Kerry County Council and the Heritage Council have once again given support to allow this study to continue.