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Barn owls on the increase

PUBLISHED: 11:20 30 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:24 05 July 2010

The number of breeding barn owls in Suffolk has reached its highest level in more than 75 years.

The owls, which can often be seen along the Waveney Valley, have now recolonised former strongholds where they have been absent for more than 20 years.

The number of breeding barn owls in Suffolk has reached its highest level in more than 75 years.

The owls, which can often be seen along the Waveney Valley, have now recolonised former strongholds where they have been absent for more than 20 years.

Figures released yesterday by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust show that there are now more than 200 breeding pairs in the county, compared to the all-time low of 125 pairs in 1991.

The owl population declined from the 1940s when many areas of grassland and hedges were replaced by land for intensive farming.

Barn owl specialist Steve Piotrowski said 780 owl boxes had been monitored in the county `this year.

He said: “It's not all good news, however, as heavy rain in early spring resulted in the owls' principal prey items - short-tailed voles - being in short supply with the result that there have been low broods this year with no second broods at all.

“However, this year's owlets will reach maturity quickly and, we hope, be able to mate this coming spring.”

The Suffolk Community Barn Owl project, which works with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, has owl boxes which can be adopted for £20.

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