The Barn Owl is a Red-listed Bird of Conservation Concern in Ireland, due to extensive declines in their breeding population and range. As a top predator and sentinel species for the health of our countryside, the declines in Barn Owl populations are extremely worrying. These declines reflect land use changes and the intensification of farming practices. Alongside these land use changes and the loss of habitat, the increased use and increased toxicity of anti-coagulant rodenticides, and the expansion of major road networks are likely to have affected Barn Owl populations. Although Barn Owl populations have declined over recent decades, there are early indications that Barn Owl populations are recovering in certain parts of their range in Ireland. The spread of two non-native species, Greater White-toothed Shrew and Bank Vole, is thought to have fuelled increased breeding success of the Barn Owl and a recovery of range.
In 2022 the Heritage Office of Wicklow County Council in partnership with local National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff initiated the Wicklow Barn Owl project with the aim of gathering baseline data on this species in County Wicklow and providing suitable supplementary habitat through the installation of Barn Owl nesting boxes where appropriate. The project received co-funded by The Heritage Council and Wicklow County Council as an action of the County Wicklow Heritage Plan. NPWS supplied the nesting boxes and managed the considerable task of erecting these in suitable interior and exterior locations throughout the county, enlisting professional tree climbing expertise as required.
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