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22 January 2014

Road casualties mount

Barn Owl road casualty, Co. Kerry, November 2013 (M.O'Clery).

Several Barn Owl road casualties have been reported over the past months, each a blow to a population which has been diminished by a record poor breeding season in 2013. The new bypass in Tralee has claimed one, and another, reported to us yesterday, was also killed by a car.

This one had a ring on its' leg, and a check of the records revealed that it had been ringed as an adult female, by John Lusby, on 27th June 2013 at a nest site near Kenmare. Last summer, she had just one chick in the nest, one of the few we were able to find in south Kerry last summer. She was found dead by the roadside just 9km WSW from the nest site, on the outskirts of Kenmare, 149 days after it was ringed. A sad end to a beautiful bird.

20 January 2014

New nest boxes

Mid-winter, and a good time to install some more Barn Owl boxes. Below, the Rolls Royce of nest boxes, due to be trialled in Ireland this summer.

The box was made by the Acquired Brain Injury group in Castleisland, Co. Kerry, for placement at an outdoor site, attached to a tall wooden pole. This design has been successful in parts of Britain, especially in areas that have good hunting habitat for the owls, but no suitable indoor nest sites nearby. 

Most Barn Owl nest boxes in Ireland are of the indoor type, as outdoor boxes are much more vulnerable to storms, they need outdoor materials (such as marine ply) and are thus more expensive to make.