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BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents -

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?

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