Record numbers of barn owl chicks hatch at Dorset farms thanks to nesting boxes

Volunteers have been monitoring how many barn owl chicks have hatched at farms in Dorset Credit: Dorset Council

Dorset's barn owl population has doubled since the council installed a number of nesting boxes on farms it owns.

Over the past four years, the authority has put up 20 boxes across the north of the county.

This summer they recorded nine chicks at four of these farms, the highest number ever found.

Experts say that since the 1930s, the UK's landscape has altered and changes in farming practice, lack of food availability and loss of natural nesting sites have meant barn owl numbers have significantly declined.

Barn owl numbers had been in decline because of changing habitats Credit: Dorset Council

The barn owl boxes were first introduced at small number of suitable sites in 2018 as part of Dorset Council's efforts to increase biodiversity at its farms.

Since then, the boxes have been checked every year by volunteers, helping experts from the British Trust for Ornithology understand more about the owls.

Cllr Ray Bryan, from Dorset Council, said: "I am thrilled to hear the efforts of our Natural Environment Team and tenant farmers have had such a positive impact of the number of barn owls in our county.

"We are committed to tackling the ecological emergency and are working hard to conserve our wild-life rich county and enhance wherever we can."