Have you spotted a barn owl in south Derry?

Threatened - barn owl
Threatened - barn owl

Ulster Wildlife has launched an appeal for sightings in south Derry of one Northern Ireland’s most threatened birds – the barn owl.

Last year, the barn owl suffered its worst breeding season in over 30 years due to a prolonged, cold spring, and now the charity fears that numbers may have plummeted.

The barn owl was once a common sight in our countryside, but now there are thought to be less than 30 breeding pairs left here. Extreme weather, loss of suitable feeding and nesting habitat, combined with the build up of toxins from consuming poisoned prey are the main reasons for the bird’s decline.

Through its ‘Be there for Barn owls’ project, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, Ulster Wildlife wants to give this iconic bird a fighting chance for survival, by working with farmers and landowners to ensure there is enough rough grassland for barn owls to hunt and breed, as well space for it to nest. But first of all, the charity needs to know where the birds are located.

If you have seen a barn owl or have information, contact Catherine Fegan at Ulster Wildlife on 028 4483 3977 or email barnowls@ulsterwildlife.org. All information will be treated sensitively and can be kept confidential on request.