Ireland sees hatching of 24 barn owls in success for conservationists

DUBLIN, Ireland: Conservationists throughout Ireland are celebrating the successful hatching of the nation’s barn owls.

In Northern Ireland alone, eight breeding pairs of owls hatched 24 chicks — a 500 percent increase in chicks from 2021 — according to Ulster Wildlife.

The news was reported in the organization’s 2022 barn owl report.

However, the barn owl remains in danger throughout Ireland, as fewer than 30 breeding pair have been identified.

The owls’ breeding season in 2021 resulted in few hatchings due to a wet spring and hot summer, said officials.

"After a troubled 2021, we are delighted to see the fortunes of barn owls changing and their numbers doing well," said senior conservation officer Katy Bell, as quoted by RTE.

"Every time we think the population is increasing, we lose some of our breeding pairs, so this year’s news is very positive.

"Barn owls need a number of things to survive: plenty of wildlife-friendly habitat on farms with enough small mammals to eat, places to nest and roost as well as climatic stability.

To survive, barn owls must hunt in areas of rough grassland, with wild field margins and wild bird cover. They feed on small mammals, including mice and rats, which live in such grasslands.

Those barn owls that live on farms need enough small mammals to eat and places to nest and roost.

In 2022, the charity erected 20 manmade nest boxes throughout the country to replace the loss of natural nesting sites in barns, old buildings and tree cavities.

Bell noted that attempts will be made to build on the successes of this year’s hatchings of the barn owls.

"We want to find more nest sites, support more landowners and nest-minders, create a network of habitats and nest boxes and ultimately help protect and expand our population of barn owls," she added.