Lucky escape for barn owls

Farnley Estates’ tree surgeons were preparing to cut down a diseased tree on Estate Land, when they came across a barn owl’s nest complete with eggs. Plans to fell the tree have now been postponed for a couple of months until the fledglings have hatched and flown the nest. Farnley Estates Manager, Paul Elgar, said:

“It was a lucky escape for the owl and its chicks. It’s unusual for barn owls to sit on eggs so late in the year, so we weren’t expecting to come across an active nest. This could well be a second clutch, the first having been lost.”

It was only by chance that one of the tree fellers spotted the nest, which was hidden in a large cavity within the trunk. It wasn’t until he climbed beyond the nest that he caught site of the eggs. As a result of this close encounter, and to give extra protection to nesting birds and other animals, Farnley Estates have changed their woodland protocol.

“In recent years we’ve made a huge effort to improve and maintain the natural habitats of wildlife on the Estate, including natural grasslands. As a result we’ve seen barn owls and other bird species return to the area. To make sure we don’t disturb birds unnecessarily, the new woodland protocol demands a thorough inspection of the upper areas of all trees that must be felled due to disease, rot or loss of limbs. The only exception will be if the tree poses an immediate danger to the public,” says Paul.

Barn owls are thought to be in decline due to a reduced food supply caused by the disappearance of rough grassland, which is their natural hunting ground. Thankfully for this owl, the tree will remain undisturbed for at least two months, giving it chance to raise its chicks in safety.