Students from Moreton Morrell College have built and installed nesting boxes for barn owls on the college’s estate.
Countryside Management students decided they would like to build the barn owl boxes, so lecturer Heather Hopkinson invited Paul Leadbetter from Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group over to talk to them. They then spoke to Roger Juckes of South Warwickshire Barn Owl Survey who advised the students on how to build the boxes.
Barn owl numbers have declined over recent years with the loss of their natural habitat, so the boxes provide a safe nesting place and have a ledge to prevent the owl chicks falling off. As the optimal height for barn owl boxes is between 4 and 5 metres the students collaborated with Level 3 Arboriculture students who have been able to practice their climbing skills in order to secure the boxes safely in the most suitable locations.
Alex Toher, 17 from Dorridge is a second year Countryside Management student. He said, “We’ve been working on the project over the last few weeks, planning and getting the materials ready and then constructing them. We’ve built bird boxes before but not on this scale, so we had to make sure they was all to the right specification, which Roger helped us with. It’s good to see them up and hopefully it will be used by the barn owls soon.”
Roger Juckes from South Warwickshire Barn Owl Survey said, “ Last year we had 92 pairs of barn owls in South Warwickshire and we’re hoping this will increase to 100. That’s why it’s great that the students have chosen to support the barn owls in this way. Installing barn owl boxes has a really positive impact on the numbers of barn owls as a high percentage of them use the boxes for nesting.”
Jack Button, from Coventry is a Level 3 Arboriculture student and installed the barn owl box with fellow student Lewis Brennan. He said, “I’ve put up smaller bird boxes before but this was definitely more challenging. I was a bit worried we weren’t going to find a flat surface and that the screws weren’t going to fit, but working with Lewis we got there. It’s great to be involved with the project to help the barn owls.”
Countryside Management lecturer Heather Hopkinson said, “The students decided that they wanted to build the barn owl boxes so it’s all down to them and their hard work. A big thank you to Paul and Roger for all their advice and support. Hopefully the barn owls will take up residence soon and then over the years students can record the use of the boxes which will then contribute to national records.”
Moreton Morrell College offers a range of courses in countryside management and arboriculture. For more information go to www.wcg.ac.uk or call 0300 456 0049.