Frequently Asked Questions
How can I see a Barn Owl?
Go on a night walk! Barn Owls are awake at night-time, as is usual for owls. They are also active shortly before nightfall and can sometimes be seen during the day when they relocate to a different sleeping place or a scarcity of food during chick rearing forces the adult owls to hunt during daylight.
Another way to be certain of seeing a Barn Owl is to visit your local Birds of Prey centre. You can also watch the owls from the comfort of your own home via nest box cameras. A couple of good examples are the Barn Owl Trust cam and the Somerset Wildlife Trust barn owl cam. Be aware, though, that these cameras stream live images and as Barn Owls are birds of prey viewers may find some of the footage disturbing.
What habitats do Barn Owls need?
- Low-lying farmland <150m above sea level, because Barn Owls are not adapted to prolonged snow cover or low winter temperatures. Their feathers are designed for silent flight are are not particularly insulating or waterproof.
- Rank tussocky grassland in which to hunt small mammals, e.g. Field Voles, which are the main prey species for this bird in mainland Britain.
- Linear grassland habitats at least 3 metres wide, particularly those associated with dry ditches, watercourses and field margins, provide the optimum habitat type for Barn Owls.
- In order to attract breeding Barn Owls a minimum of 9-15km of grassland edge at least 3 metres wide is required within their home range of around 3-7 square kilometres. Where whole fields of rough grassland are available about 30-50 hectares are needed for successful breeding.
- The preferred grasslands are perennial comprising a rank sward, high density of tussocks and a deep basal litter layer of dead grass or thatch.
- Suitable nest sites are also required, such as hollow trees, farm buildings or nest boxes sited close to rough grassland.
How do Fair to Nature farms ensure they provide the right habitats for Barn Owls?
Our sustainability protocol requires farmers to take 10% of their land out of food production to develop a specific range of habitats for wildlife on their farmed land. The habitat must be created and managed in the ratios prescribed to create the optimum conditions to promote biodiversity on the farm. These include:
- 4% Pollen and Nectar, e.g. wildflowers and clover, planted in field margins or as a meadow, to homes and food for insects, many of which are important pollinators.
- 2% Wild Bird Food, using plants such as Quinoa and Fodder Radish that produce seeds to feed farmland birds over the winter and early spring.
- 2% Tussocky and Fine Grasses, providing shelter for spiders, beetles and small mammals (and food for predators such as Barn Owls!).
- 0.5% Annually cultivated areas that are allowed to naturally regenerate to encourage rare arable plants and provide open areas for ground nesting birds. This habitat is optional as it doesn’t suit all soil types.
- 2% Other Habitats that are present on the farm, such as ponds, woodland, hedges – all providing important food sources and homes for wildlife.
Who makes Conservation Grade Fair to Nature accredited products?
- Jordans Cereals uses oats, wheat and barley from Fair to Nature farms in their breakfast cereals and cereal bars, and has done so for over 25 years.
- Allinson Flour produce Nature Friendly self-raising and plain flour in 1kg and 3kg bags, using wheat from Fair to Nature farms.
- Vitacress Salads market Conservation Grade accredited baby leaf salad under their own brand, Steve’s Leaves. All Vitacress farms are Conservation Grade accredited.
- Honeychop Horse Feeds produce a range of oat straw based horse feeds using Conservation Grade accredited oat straw.
- Lordington Lavender produce a range of beauty and bath products using their home-grown Conservation Grade accredited lavender.
- Norfolk Quail is a family run business selling free-range quail meat and eggs. The quail are raised on a Fair to Nature farm.
- Wight Salads are part of the Vitacress Group and grow tomatoes on the Isle of Wight. Their glasshouses are surrounded by dedicated areas for wildlife.
- VHB Herbs are also part of the Vitacress Group and sell potted and cut herbs to the retail sector under the brand names WOW! and The Fresh Herb Co. They have dedicated areas for wildlife around their glasshouses.
- Birdfood brands that use grains from Fair to Nature farms are Honeyfield’s, the Ultiva® range from Garden Bird Supplies and the Conservation Blend from ChapelWood. You can feed the birds in your garden knowing that food has also been provided for farmland birds.
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