New homes for barn owls in mid Wales

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Barn owls have been in decline in Britain over the last 15 years – the reduction in the number of derelict buildings where these birds like to roost is one reason for the fall in their population.

Now, thanks to the installation of two new owl boxes on the edge of woodlands managed by Forestry Commission Wales at Lake Vyrnwy near Llanwddyn and Breidden Hill near Llandrinio, barn owls have more room to roost and nest in mid Wales.

Forestry Commission Wales first identified a suitable location to install each box with input from the RSPB at Lake Vyrnwy and the Criggion Estate at Breidden Hill. Staff then supplied the materials to volunteers from the RSPB who constructed the barn owl boxes.

As the barn owl's favourite prey is voles, which are found in rough grassland and other areas of dense ground cover, the boxes have been positioned as close as possible to this type of habitat to increase the chances of attracting nesting birds.

Forestry Commission Wales Area Manager Mike Whitley said, "Barn owls will use woodland edges and other clearings in and around woodlands to hunt for their prey and we’ve had sightings of barn owls at both Lake Vyrnwy and Breidden Hill.

"We hope that, by providing additional nesting opportunities, these new boxes will help conserve these wonderful birds."

The RSPB already has a number of boxes at sites on the Lake Vynrwy estate and welcomed the installation of the extra barn owl boxes.

RSPB Senior Site Manager at Lake Vyrnwy Nature Reserve Mike Walker said, "When Forestry Commission Wales approached us to work together to construct and erect additional boxes in the area, we were delighted to be able to provide advice and support for the project."

The boxes at Lake Vyrnwy and Breidden Hill will be monitored annually by Forestry Commission Wales’s Wildlife Ranger to see if they have been successful in attracting barn owls.


Forestry Commission Wales

About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to the private sector and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.

Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

Press office contact: Mary Galliers,, 0300 068 0057.