search
Barnsley
Batley
Bedale
Beverley
Bingley
Bradford
Bridlington
Brighouse
Castleford
Catterick Garrison
Cleckheaton
Cottingham
Darlington
Dewsbury
Doncaster
Driffield
Elland
Filey
Goole
Guisborough
Halifax
Harrogate
Hawes
Hebden Bridge
Heckmondwike
Hessle
Holmfirth
Huddersfield
Hull
Ilkley
Keighley
Knaresborough
Knottingley
Leeds
Leyburn
Liversedge
Malton
Mexborough
Middlesborough
Mirfield
Morley
Normanton
Northallerton
Ossett
Otley
Pickering
Pontetfract
Pudsey
Redcar
Richmond
Ripon
Rotherham
Saltburn-by-the-Sea
Scarborough
Selby
Settle
Sheffield
Shipley
Skipton
Sowerby Bridge
Stockton-on-Tees
Tadcaster
Thirsk
Todmorden
Wakefield
Wetherby
Whitby
Yarm
York
Barn Owls Breed At RSPB Bempton Cliffs For The First Time
Welcoming any new youngster into the world is a cause for celebration, but the successful raising of two barn owl chicks to fledging age at RSPB Bempton Cliffs is a really special moment – especially at a time when wildlife is in so much trouble.

The cliff top team were hopeful of a new arrival when a pair of adult barn owls took up residence in one of two owl boxes in the spring. Both boxes were originally installed six years ago with the aim of encouraging barn owls to breed on the cliff top reserve. However, until now, they had only provided a home to a pair of kestrels as well as stock doves.

Site Warden, Dave Aitken, said: "Barn owls are a regular feature on the reserve as the cliff top grassland is managed in a way that provides suitable hunting areas for them and supports small mammals, which are their staple diet. However, we’d had no luck with them starting a family here".

As soon as the barn owls settled in their new home, trained and licensed staff carefully monitored the Schedule One Protected Species and attempted to keep the nest activity out of the public eye as nature took its course. Initially the barn owls had five eggs, three of which hatched. Two of those chicks survived to fledging age. At this point, youngsters can move up to 12 km away – but they’re more likely to remain within 1-2 km of the nature reserve if the habitat is suitable.

And while there is a high mortality rate amongst juvenile birds – mainly from starvation as inexperienced hunters struggle to find food during winter – there’s every chance that they’ll do well as the local barn owl population is thriving.

Dave Aitken is delighted with the outcome: "To finally have a pair use one of the two boxes is a real joy, and a very small conservation victory for this much-loved farmland species."

No-one is certain of the exact number of barn owls in the UK but the estimate is around 9000 pairs. Hopefully the ‘Bempton Cliffs Two’ will help increase that number by finding mates next year.

Barn Owls Breed At RSPB Bempton Cliffs For The First Time, 16th September 2019, 12:10 PM