‘Rare owl times’ in Laois
Since the Laois Barn Owl Nesting Box Project began last year, several barn owls have come ‘home’ to roost in Laois and this has resulted in over 32 owlets being born in the county this year.
Funded by Gas Networks Ireland as part of its sustainability strategy, the Laois Barn Owl Project is a local non-profit initiative to increase the population of wild barn owls in Co. Laois. Barn owls (Tyto alba) are birds at the top of the food chain and are known as an “indicator species”, as their presence is an indication of a very healthy ecosystem.
The barn owl population had declined by 50% over the last 25 years, for reasons such as loss of habitats, including rough tussocky grassland and hedges where their prey lives and exposure to rodenticides. However, with the Laois Barn Owl Project having taken flight in just its first year the population is starting to rebound.
Barry Nolan, Managing Director, Wildlife Management Services who runs the Laois Barn Owl Project said:
“Despite the shortage of suitable natural nesting sites, barn owls have been responding well to the provision of artificial nesting boxes in areas of suitable habitat across Laois. Gas Networks Ireland generously provided funding for 20 outdoor boxes and although it’s early days, this has made already a big difference to the future of the barn owl population in Laois.
“Of the 20 Gas Networks Ireland funded outdoor boxes we installed, we had two in use over the summer. This is very positive for the first year of installation. Pictured is one of the boxes which a pair of barn owls used for roosting (images captured under NPWS Licence). The second box produced three healthy barn owl chicks. Hopefully we should see more boxes being used as the years go on.”
Supporting biodiversity is a key pillar of Gas Networks Ireland’s sustainability strategy. As guardians of Ireland’s gas infrastructure, and winner of the Green Business of the Year at the 2021 Green Awards, Gas Networks Ireland aims to deliver its services in a sustainable manner that contributes to the protection of the environment while supporting the social and economic development of the communities it operates in, as well as the wider economy.
Gas Networks Ireland’s Sustainability Manager, Anne Moore, said:
“As part of Gas Networks Ireland’s commitment to sustainability, we are delighted to support the Laois Barn Owl Project, which is a wonderful biodiversity conservation initiative that forms part of our Biodiversity Action Plan.
“We are delighted that the project is seeing such positive outcomes at this early stage. Many congratulations to Barry and his team; we look forward to your continued success and hope that these are the first of many healthy hatchings for a species that is in decline in Ireland. These beautiful birds are an important part of local ecosystems and it is vital that we protect them for future generations.”
Co. Laois landowners who are interested in getting involved and finding out more about how they can support the local barn owl population, can email Barry Nolan at firstname.lastname@example.org