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Volunteers needed to help build homes for barn owls

Barn owl box © Joy Wallis

In an attempt to improve the barn owl survival rate this winter, Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) is calling for volunteers to help build boxes to provide threatened barn owls with shelter and safety.  

DWT’s barn owl appeal was launched in June and received over-whelming public support, which has now enabled the conservation charity to use some of the £28,000 raised to start building barn owl boxes.  A box building day will be held on Saturday 15th November at DWT’s headquarters, Brooklands Farm, Forston, Dorchester, DT2 7AA from 11am to 3pm.

In 2013, barn owl numbers plummeted in the UK due to the worst breeding season for 30 years.  Unusual weather such as long winters, cold summers and wet springs have made it harder to hunt, and changes in farming practices have meant loss of nesting sites. 

DWT Conservation Officer, Emily Newton said, “We are confident that with a few good breeding seasons, barn owl numbers should rise again.  Fortunately, there are some things we can do to give barn owls a helping hand, such as making boxes to give them a safe haven this winter.  Anyone can be part of the team of volunteers helping to build these boxes.  All you need to do is bring your enthusiasm, and we will supply the materials and assist where needed.  I will be available to help and answer questions throughout the day.”    

The boxes made on the 15th November will be distributed to farms with suitable habitat in Dorset.  Other work taking place will include visiting landowners to offer advice and how to manage land to benefit the barn owl, and delivering educational talks and guided walks for schools and communities to encourage recordings of barn owl sightings.  

If you are interested in finding out more information about barn owls, and to meet a barn owl, DWT is holding an Owl Day on Tuesday 28th October at Portesham Village Hall from 10am – 1pm.  Families are welcome, with activities for children and information about how to Make Wildlife Welcome into your area.  For more information, phone 01300 321329 or visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/events.  To find out more about the barn owl appeal, visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/barnowl  

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