Barn Owl Box Scheme
Throughout the Lower Stour valley, below Canterbury
2018 to 2020
WHAT WE DID
Expanded our Barn Owl nest box scheme , installing 20 new boxes and repairing or replacing many older boxes with our Canterbury volunteer group
This was just the latest chapter in our long-running programme to conserve Barn Owls in East Kent. By 2018, we had already installed 59 boxes throughout the Stour Valley, from Bethersden in the West to Minster-in-Thanet in the East. We have been installing and surveying boxes since the mid-nineties, for much of that time without any funding.
Barn Owls were once common, but their numbers have crashed over the last two centuries due to loss of hunting grounds and traditional nesting sites, such as old farm buildings and hollow trees. Nest boxes like the ones we put up have helped to reverse this decline, with numbers starting to recover since the 1990s.
The Stour Valley is an important area for Barn Owls because valleys tend to have plenty of the right type of habitat – open countryside with rough grassland for hunting small mammals like voles and shrews. Also, Barn Owls are vulnerable to wet and cold, and valleys provide some shelter from the worst of the weather.
We were awarded £17,000 by National Grid’s Community Fund to carry out this work. We are very grateful to the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory for their help in securing these funds. Each summer, we work with licensed Barn Owl handlers to organise surveys of every box that we have installed. Physical measurements are taken of adults and young. Data is sent on to the Barn Owl Conservation Network, who coordinate nest box schemes nationally. Surveying is mostly run by our amazing volunteers, who contact landowners, drive the surveying team to the box locations and collate all the data.