What to do if you find a dead barn owl

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Barn Owl mortality is linked to snow cover

Photo of a dead Barn Owl in the snow. Photo copyright Colin Shawyer.

Starvation is the leading cause of death in Barn Owl, and when a thick blanket of snow lies on the ground for prolonged periods, life is very difficult for this owl because their prey is more difficult to find.

During such hard times, the chances of finding a dead Barn Owl in the open might be higher than usual. So what should you do if you discover a dead Barn Owl?

Any such find is worth reporting to a local bird group, and to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) which studies bird populations. If the dead Barn Owl has a leg ring, please report it at the EURING website.

Jason Ball at Sheepdrove Organic Farm recalls, “We submitted a ‘ring return’ online and received a recovery report from the BTO a few months later. We had found the owl at a barn, early last spring. The unique BTO ring identified the owl as being one which was first monitored (and fitted with the metal leg band) at our farm a few years earlier.”

“This result highlighted how short an owl’s life can be. We also realised that this was the former mate of a female in a nearby box. As you might expect, the female did not find a new mate in time for the breeding season, no chicks were produced in that box during 2009.”

Why report ringed birds?

More info… BTO – ring recoveries (PDF)

Why should I report a ringed bird?

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