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Project information

Bringing back Suffolk's barn owls

Barn owl numbers have declined markedly in the UK since the 1930’s. Suffolk Wildlife Trust has already acheived success by creating habitat & providing next boxes, as a result we have seen breeding numbers increase in targetted areas. Now we know this approach works we need to take it countywide.

January 2012 - December 2014

Charity information: Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Suffolk Wildlife Trust logo
  • Need


    Barn owl numbers have declined markedly in the UK since the 1930’s. The last comprehensive national survey was conducted in 1985, which showed a barn owl population for Suffolk of 150 breeding pairs. All 150 pairs were nesting in farm buildings or in natural sites such as hollow trees and none were nesting in nest boxes. By 2005, when the Suffolk Community Barn owl project was launched, there were thought to be around 125 pairs, restricted almost exclusively to north east Suffolk.


    Having identified the lack of natural nest sites as the critical limiting factor for barn owl, we have worked with community groups and landowners to install over 1000 nest boxes in areas where there are known or historic populations. Barn owls take readily to nest boxes and a team of trained volunteers monitor the boxes and ring the chicks.

    To date our work has focused on the east and north east of the county – our goal now is to extend these methods to the whole of Suffolk.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Increase breeding barn owl pairs in Suffolk to 350 (currently there are around 300).


    » Install nest boxes and improve habitat at targetted sites.

    What success will look like

    Success will be increasing numbers and safeguarding current populations.

  • Impact


    The project's focus on habitat and next box provision is a long term term strategy to secure the populations of barn owl into the future. We will regularly monitor and ring the birds to record this progress.


    Not securing enough volunteer support could limit our ability to provide nest boxes and monitor usage. We will ensure the aim of the project is communicated to a broad range of people to encourage involvement and offer appropriate training for them.


    We will report to donors through the Trust's website and Suffolk Wildlife magazine.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £40,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £18,000 Staff time Coordination of project and volunteers for 1 day/week for three years
      £2,500 Training & Recruitment Of volunteers - 10 days/year
      £2,500 Advisory events Profile raising incl. farm walks - 10 events/year
      £2,000 Mapping technology Predictive mapping, box analysis and evaluation
      £7,000 Materials Wood and nails for boxes, ringing equipment and ladders/roof racks for box monitors
      £2,500 Travel Visits to check boxes, advise landowners
      £5,500 Tree surgeon Safe and correct installation of boxes

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Michael Markes Charitable Trust £10,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project will work throughout Suffolk , with a particular focus on the west of the county.


    The beneficiries of this project will of course be the barn owls themselves. Other beneficiries will include species that benefit from improved habitat and even the odd jackdaw that might take advantage of a nest box!

    In terms of peple, those directly involved will benefit, be they volunteer nest box checkers or making the next boxes themselves as they see numbers of barn owl increasing. Those able to enjoy seeing barn owl where they live will also benefit.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Suffolk Wildlife Trust is the county's leading conservation organisation. With 50 years experience and knowledge about the county's species and habitats and over 1300 active volunteers in communities across Suffolk, we are able to work at a very local.

    We have a successful track record of delivering this sort of targetted species recovery project, with beneficiary spcies including water vole, great crested newt and barn owl.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Steve Piotrowski

    The project will be managed by the Trust’s Farmland Advisor and the author of The Birds of Suffolk (2003).

Barn owl

Barn owl