Barn owl in flight
Barn Owl Surveys
Barn Owls are protected under Section 1 and section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
The act makes it an offence to:
• intentionally kill or injure a barn owl
• destroy or take a nest, eggs or young while the nest is in use or being built
• intentionally or recklessly disturb barn owls whilst nest building
• intentionally or recklessly disturb barn owls at or near the nest with eggs or young
• intentionally or recklessly disturb dependant young
For most birds the breeding season is March to August inclusive. Barn owls will nest at any time of the year when food/prey is plentiful.
The presence of protected species is a material consideration when a planning authority is considering a development proposal. The presence of protected species and the affect of the proposed development must be established before planning permission can be granted.
As a guide Barn Owl Surveys should be carried out when:
• Proposed development which includes the modification, conversion, demolition or removal of any agricultural buildings (e.g. farmhouses and barns), particularly of traditional brick or stone construction and/or with exposed wooden beams greater than 20 cm thick;
• Proposals involving lighting of churches and listed buildings or flood lighting of green space within 50 m of woodland, water, field hedgerows or lines of trees with obvious connectivity to woodland or water;
• Proposed tree work (felling or lopping) and or development affecting:
o old and veteran trees that are older than 100 years;
o trees with obvious holes, cracks or cavities,
o trees with a girth greater than 1 m at chest height;
• Proposed development affecting any locations where barn owls are known to be present.
How are Barn Owl Surveys conducted?
Ecological record searches of the area affected by the development should be carried out with the local record centre.
Building surveys can be carried out at any time of year. Barn owl surveys involve internal and external inspection of buildings for field signs and likely entry / exit points. Field signs of barn owls include feathers, droppings, casts and nest debris and eggs. An assessment of these is made to establish numbers and the level of use of the building.