Twelve gifts of Christmas

Nest boxes for barn owls

It is no secret that the CRT has had a huge success with barn owls nesting on our properties. Lark Rise Farm, Pierrepont Farm and Bere Marsh Farm are just three examples where you can see these beautiful birds. Now, we would like to welcome them back to Brays Farm.

Nestled in the Surrey Weald, on the edge of South Nutfield village is 52-acre Brays Farm. A traditional dairy farm, with fields separated by native hedgerows, it is noted for both barn owls, little owls, kestrels, and swallows.

Although barn owls hunt over the farm fields, there are no nest boxes for them to settle in and breed and raise young. Brays Farm used to be home to these majestic birds and we would like them to return.

Why barn owls are important

Barn owls are one of our most beautiful birds of prey and are an important indicator species on British farmland. They’re a top predator, so their presence shows that habitats and food chains are robust. They are regularly active during the day, especially in summer when they’re hunting for food for their young, so visitors are often treated to breath-taking views of them quartering over the wildflower meadows.

Barn owls suffered severe declines following the use of persistent organochloride pesticides and one of the main factors restricting their recovery is the lack of nesting sites. Modernising and repairing old barns can make them inaccessible to wildlife and old hollow trees that could also be used as nesting sites are often now removed for safety reasons too.

Providing nest boxes will allow these birds to start to breed at Bray’s Farm. These spectacular birds are a real asset: their hunting helps to regulate the numbers of small mammals and barn owls are able to adjust their breeding performance to match the available prey.

Resident barn owls also regurgitate a large number of pellets. These pellets consist of undigested bones and fur, and they create a unique environment as they support a range of specialist invertebrates, including beetles and moths, whose larvae extract the remaining nutrients from the pellets. 

    Owl box image: Geoff Harries

How you can help

We are incredibly lucky that our wonderful team of volunteers at Bere Marsh Farm are willing to make the barn owl boxes for Brays Farm, but the cost of the wood and other resources means each box will cost about £70 and ideally we would have five of them.

Please select a donation amount (required)

Your donation is being made to the CRT's Twelve Gifts of Christmas fund. The CRT will endeavour to put your donation towards the appeal you select, but the funds will be prioritised according to the greatest need. The CRT will try to ensure that all the items within the 12 appeals are purchased, but if an appeal's target is not met or exceeded the funds could be diverted to another appeal to achieve the greatest benefit for wildlife and people on our farms.

12 Gifts of Christmas

Wildlife blog: Restoring our barn owl barn