A recent blog post by West Wilts Ringing Group draws attention to the causes of death of British Barn Owls.
The report covers many species but it’s the Barn Owl that tops their casualty table with more than double the deaths than the next entry, Blackbirds.
Of the 18 Barn Owl bodies, with known causes of death, recovered, the top killer is road traffic. Driving more slowly along country lanes can help reduce our killrate – I recommend driving under 45mph along country lanes – it’s the speed a hawk can fly, so birds have evolved to avoid objects travelling up this speed.
Birds are also being killed in farmers’ water troughs which attract owls and other wildlife to drink and bath. The birds become waterlogged and drown trying to escape.
Farmers are aware of dangers of water troughs and some are installing wildlife protection floats in their troughs. These floats don’t impede livestock from drinking but do prevent the killing of owls and other birds that are attracted to them.
For farmers and others with livestock, here’s a useful article from The Bisham Barn Owl Group on how to use protection floats to keep wildlife safe.