Aim and activities of the Barn Owl Protection Foundation in the Netherlands.
The Barn Owl is referred to as a ’red alert species’ (or red list species) according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality confirming its status as a severely endangered bird species nowadays. As a consequence, extra surveillance and protection measures are taken. Approximately 35 year ago, a number of enthusiastic volunteers started the construction and distribution of wooden box nests. The fact that the breeding population of the Barn Owl had been estimated at approximately 100 pairs only in 1979 illustrated the urgent need of this initiative. Thanks to the joint action of the volunteers and the Dutch branch of Birdlife a network dedicated to Barn Owl protection is effective to date with extensive rural coverage. In 2004, the management of the network dedicated to Barn Owl protection changed from the Dutch branch of Birdlife to the Barn Owl Foundation.
Fotografie André Eijkenaar
According to the mission of the Foundation, its activities are aimed at Barn Owl protection by means of providing information and education, placing of wooden box nests and collecting various data in order to monitor the size of the population in the Netherlands.
The rural network dedicated to Barn Owl protection managed by the Foundation consists of about 1000 volunteers active in 16 regions supervising more than 10,000 box nests for Barn Owls. The members of the Foundation construct and put in place box nests, ring Barn Owls and collect various data in order to know the structure of the Barn Owl population as well as the behaviour of individual owls better. The generated data are stored centrally and are comprising around 30,000 records dealing with breeding and almost 5000 ring recoveries from dead or alive individuals. The Foundation supports the volunteers through providing box nests and materials for data collection whenever possible.
The Foundation publishes a newsletter annually intended for people housing box nests like farmers. This newsletter contains information on the size of the Barn Owl population and its breeding success as well as background information on other owls with rural preference and other interesting facts and technical advices concerning Barn Owl protection.
The educational aspect is taken care of via the organisation of a conference dedicated to Barn Owl protection twice yearly. Besides information on the Barn Owl is made available via the website of the Foundation and by means of disposition of brochures on selective topics dealing with Barn Owl protection.
In addition, the Foundation collects information on illegal trade and housing of Barn Owls and functions as the helpdesk on such matters too. Violations of the appropriate law will be brought under the attention of the legal authorities thereby facilitating prosecution.
Thanks to the efforts of the many volunteers in cooperation with farmers and citizens in the countryside the breeding population of the Barn Owl increased from approximately 100 pairs thirty years ago to about 3000 pairs nowadays.