Barn owl population soaring in South Norfolk
The number of barn owls in South Norfolk has taken off, according to the latest count from South Norfolk Council's countryside ranger.
Four years ago, the council set up a project working with local volunteers to install 30 barn owl boxes throughout the district, to help stem the national decline of the breed.
During the first year, only six of the boxes were in use, with five housing barn owls and their young.
But on a recent site check the ranger discovered birds nesting in 25 of the boxes, with 12 occupied by barn owls.
Councillor Keith Kiddie, the council's cabinet member for environment and regulation, said: 'These beautiful birds of prey have been in decline for the past 100 years. This is largely due to a loss of habitat, as old barns and farm buildings have slowly disappeared or been redeveloped.
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'By putting these nest boxes near good hunting ground, we have provided the perfect habitat for the birds to thrive. It's fantastic to see so many of the boxes in use and so many young owls- in one box alone there were five chicks!
'It's important we protect our environment and I am grateful to the landowners who provided the sites and everyone who sponsored the boxes. This is a great example of how the community can work together to protect an important part of our heritage.'
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The council's ranger has a special license to check the boxes for behavioural study purposes.
For more information about the conservation of barn owls, visit the Barn Owl Trust at www.barnowltrust.org.uk