A few months ago, having spent over an hour on my local patch without seeing anything besides a few wood pigeons, I was ready to give up and go home. But then, to my delight, a barn owl flew out of a tree a few feet away from me. I’ve been watching wildlife in the area for over 30 years but had never seen a barn owl. I stood in amazement as the owl flew over the fields and out of sight.
Inspired by what I’d seen – and keen that the bird should remain – I decided to build a nestbox with the help of my wife, Lisa. After we’d assembled the box our next task was to find a suitable location for it, which isn’t as easy as it seems. We eventually found the ideal tree: thick trunk, high canopy, surrounded by dense grassy fields and near the spot where I’d seen the barn owl.
Once the box was in place, all we needed to do was wait. A month or so passed and on one dry evening my wife, my father and I hid among the trees with a good view of the box. After about 30 minutes a barn owl emerged from the box. I froze to the spot but inside I was jumping for joy. I couldn’t believe it.
The owl – possibly a male – was in no rush to leave. He stood on the platform, stretching and preening his elegant plumage.
I’m pleased to say that, to date, not only is the owl still using the box but it seems another owl has made a home for itself in a second box we’ve made too! I’ve just finished my third box and hope to get it up in the next few weeks. All being well it will be as successful as the others. Richard Collins, Walsall
Editor Sheena Harvey says: What a fantastic example of how doing your homework can provide wildlife with an environment to perfectly suit them.
Barn owls have set up residence in the boxes that Richard and Lisa have built ( inset). Red admirals: enjoying an Indian summer?