Barn Owl Surveys

Barn Owls & the Law

Barn Owls are a bird of prey found throughout most of the UK. They are generally in their underside, with golden/tan/grey feathers on top. They have a white heart shaped face with dark eyes. Barn Owl populations are at threat from decreasing habitat, changes in agricultural practices and reduction in their prey species.

There is no separate protection under UK law for Barn Owls. Rather they are protected by the same laws as all other bird species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure take any bird, or to disturb, damage or destroy any active nest of eggs. However, there are no laws protecting Barn Owls outside of their nesting season. For Barn Owls, nesting protection ends when all the young owls become independent (typically at 11-14 weeks), which is later than the age at which they fledge (at 8-10 weeks old).

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Typical habitat

Barn Owls can be found throughout most of the UK. Barn Owl habitat is closely linked to their prey species. The most ideal habitat for Barn Owls is rough grassland with tussocky native grass species and a deep litter layer. This habitat is best for Field Voles, Common Shrews and Wood Mice, which constitute the majority of their prey.

In addition to hunting habitat, Barn Owls require roosting and nesting habitat. Most often this is in rural buildings and tree hollows. However, the number of suitable rural buildings is decreasing, with most being converted or too degraded. Nowadays, nest boxes constitute the majority of nest sites.

Barn Owl surveys

Most Barn Owl nests or roosts can be found during a detailed search of the premise for signs of pellets, feathers, nest debris or faeces.

This search can be undertaken as part of a Phase I survey, or separately at any time of the year. However, nesting surveys (to determine if it is an active nest) can only be undertaken during the nesting season, considered to be March to June. Wintering surveys can also be undertaken during November to February.

If it is unknown if a nest is currently active, trail cameras may also occasionally be used. However, their use is restricted due to possible disturbance to the owls.

Our experience

We can provide a team to deliver reliable survey information carried out to the highest standards. We have a number of experienced surveyors who have gained considerable expertise in identifying Barn Owl signs and pellets and implementing a scheme of mitigation if required.

About us

Providing quality ecology services across southern England and beyond since 1999.

At Ecosupport we complete comprehensive ecological reports for Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, Phase I Surveys, BREEAM, NVC Vegetation and Hedgerows and Phase II Surveys for protected species such as bats, reptiles, dormice, GCN, birds and badgers. We work directly with our clients to deliver pragmatic results and can implement any required mitigation or habitat restoration to see through your ecological needs from start to finish. Our large network of ecologists enables us to offer all our services all across the UK.

Ecosupport is SSIP-certified through SMAS Ltd.


Ecosupport - Head Office
K4 Keppel, Daedalus Park
Daedalus Drive, Lee-on-the-Solent
PO13 9FX


01329 832 841

Telephone (International)

+44 1329 832 841