The last two Barn Owl years couldn’t be further apart; 2013 was a disaster with poor winter weather causing a massive crash in the vole population; hundreds of Barn Owls were reported dead and very few pairs carried on to breed. RUBOP had only 7 pairs breed raising only 16 chicks.
The recovery last year was equally dramatic; most of the non-breeders of 2013 were still around; the winter was favourable, the voles bred prolifically and the Barn Owls put on weight, laying large clutches of eggs. Reports from throughout the Country indicated one of the best breeding seasons ever with remarkable numbers being mentioned. RUBOP, like most other groups had a record year with 39 pairs raising 183 chicks.
Colin Shawyer of the Barn Owl Conservation Network estimates that 10,000 – 12,000 Barn Owl chicks were ringed, the highest ever recorded. Colin thinks that we’re ringing on average, about one-third of all Barn Owl chicks in the UK, then we could consider that about 30,000 young were produced in 2014.
So for 2015; with so many new birds reaching breeding age and with the winter being kind with not too much juvenile mortality we should have a big increase in breeding pairs and a good uptake of our boxes. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we find a good number of occupied boxes when we start our inspections in May and the 80th chick we ring will be the 1,000th for RUBOP!!