The Countryside Restoration Trust is a charity dedicated to the conservation of wildlife on farms. We save wildlife on farms by using traditional methods rather than mass agriculture. Our evidence shows that our farmers and volunteers achieve magnificent results, including encouraging iconic barn owls onto our properties.

Here are three of our recent success stories:

Barn Owl looking out from a treeLark Rise Farm

Barn owls disappeared from Lark Rise Farm, Barton, Cambridgeshire, in the 1960s, around the time they were put on the UK conservation status as “At-Risk”. They are a favourite species of CRT Founder Robin Page, and therefore the CRT joined the Barn Owl Conservation Network soon after its inception.

In 1994 grassland habitats were re-introduced to Lark Rise Farm, making the perfect home for species such as wood mice and voles, all dinner for barn owls! Around this time we also first installed in a series of well-spaced locations around the farm and now, every year, we are delighted to have two or three breeding pairs occupying the farm.

Following a Cambridge Water Pebble Fund grant received in November 2020, we have erected six new nest boxes on Lark Rise Farm. Our wonderful volunteer Ray Thorne heard of our grant and offered to make the boxes himself thus saving us money, meaning we can re-invest into repairing other nest boxes on the farm. Ray even mentioned to the timber merchants what he was buying the wood for, and he was given a huge discount!

We look forward to seeing the results over the coming months.

Bere Marsh Farm

On Bere Marsh Farm in Dorset, there is a magnificent Victorian barn on the farm, which for the past 15 years, has been the roost to a pair of breeding barn owls. Unfortunately, it was in a very poor state of repair, and we launched an urgent appeal to complete the necessary restoration works; our CRT Friends did not disappoint, and in a matter of weeks we had raised all the money required to do the repair works, which fitted in with the breeding schedule of the owls.

We are delighted to say the fantastic tradesmen we use were very sympathetic to the owls, and the male continued to use the barn every night after they had finished. The works have now been completed, and we have seen that the female has also returned, so, thanks to CRT Friends like you, we have a wonderful success story.

Fingers crossed we soon have some chicks!

Pierrepont Farm

The wonderful volunteers at Pierrepont Farm in Surrey have taken it upon themselves to raise money to purchase wood for barn owl boxes. Over the past five years, they have constructed 15 barn owl boxes and put one in every barn on the property.

There are also several, up high, in trees. The lucky barn owls at Pierrepont are spoilt for choice with the number of boxes available to them and spend their time moving from one to the other.

Barn Owls are an important indicator species on British farmland.

Owlets in a messy box at Babers Farm
Aug 2019
As a top predator, barn owl presence shows that habitats and food chains are robust. And, of course, it is one of Britain’s most beautiful birds of prey.

Even though barn owls are crepuscular; they hunt mainly at dusk and dawn, barn owls are often active in daylight, particularly during the summer evenings when the chicks require many feeding visits, so visitors to the farm are regularly treated to breathtaking views of them hunting over our wildflower meadows. 

We are delighted that barn owls are on our properties, but it does come at a cost! We monitor the birds in accordance and in partnership with, the British Trust for Ornithology, and have to complete regular maintenance to the nest boxes.

A little-known fact is how messy barn owls actually are! We have to clean the boxes every autumn to make them ready for the next year, whilst completing essential DIY to ensure that the boxes are not likely to fall out of a tree and injure the chicks.

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