Barn owls are a Schedule 1 species listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (As amended) and as such the birds, their nests, eggs and young are fully protected at all times. Barn owls do not build a ‘nest’ in the most recognised sense, but instead use a nest place, consisting of compacted debris which is considered their nest. Surveys of known barn owl nest sites should be done so by licenced ecologists.
Surveys look for evidence and suitable features that the species may use. Barn owls commonly roost and nest within buildings as well as trees. Barn owls are often restricted to a rural setting with access to suitable foraging habitat such as areas of meadow or rough grassland. Evidence of the presence of barn owls can be identified by feathers, pellets or white faecal splashing as well as physical sightings and the identification of nest areas. Barn owl survey work can be undertaken year-round.
Mitigation for barn owls can involve undertaking any required building work or activity which will disturb or damage or destroy barn owls nests when they are most unlikely to be nesting (November – January). A check undertaken by one of our team can be undertaken to confirm this. If a nesting site is to be impacted it can be a requirement to provide alternative nesting provision on site This can involve the incorporation of nesting space within a building design or the provision of a nest box. Nest boxes in particular should be positioned with clear flight lines and clearly visible to barn owls, with access to suitable foraging habitat such as rough grassland. Barn owl boxes should not be positioned near busy roads, airports or railway lines, areas knowingly treated with rodenticide or subject to high levels of disturbance.