BARN OWL SURVEYS
Barn owls are nocturnal and hunt at night for small mammals, mostly field voles in England. Barn owls live in open countryside and farmland, nesting in barns, tree cavities, hay bales, farm buildings and occasionally churches. Due to developments, in particular new road schemes and suitable habitat loss / fragmentation, barn owl numbers have declined rapidly over the last few decades. Additionally, newer farm buildings lack suitable nesting places for these birds, which rely on older agricultural buildings with suitable nesting features.
Due to legislation, barn owl surveys are requested by the Local Planning Authority prior to submission of a planning application in cases where the proposed development is reasonably likely to affect barn owls. It is likely that a barn owl survey will be required if your proposed development affects traditional farm buildings, trees, churches in rural locations and / or barns.
The barn owl survey may be conducted at any time of the year and in daylight hours. The ecologist will undertake a thorough inspection of the building for signs of nesting activity, and will look for evidence such as pellets, splashing (owl droppings), feathers, nesting material and eggs / egg casings. An assessment will also be made on the suitability of the surrounding habitat for foraging barn owls.
If occupation or evidence of barn owls is recorded, then a mitigation scheme will be required. This may include erecting barn owl nest boxes and habitat enhancements for barn owls.