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Friday, 13 February 2015

Fateful death of two Barn Owls on Tralee Bypass

In an extraordinary twist of fate, two Barn Owls chicks, ringed at different nest sites in Kerry on the same day last August, were both found dead yesterday within 5km of each other on the Tralee Bypass.

Three Barn Owls and a Long-eared Owl were found dead along the 14km route shortly after the road opened in October 2013. Since then, two more Barn Owl casualties were found during weekly survey visits, and another was found dead by the roadside two weeks ago just 300m south of the Bypass. Though central Kerry is a stronghold of the species, seven Barn Owl deaths (that we know about) along this short stretch of road must surely be having a seriously detrimental impact on the local population.

A beautiful male Barn Owl, Tralee Bypass, 13th February 2015. He was fledged from a nest near Castleisland in August 2014, about 15 km away (Michael O'Clery).

This male featured on nest box footage from last summer. See this post for more. Here's a short video clip with the male and his three siblings last July.

Four Barn Owl chicks at a nest box in near Castleisland, one of which - the bird on the left - is the male above (Filmed under licence from NPWS: M.O'Clery & J. Lusby).

A second bird, a female, centre foreground. She was the only fledgling from a nest near Milltown last summer, about 18km distant. The rough, ungrazed grassy embankment is ideal for small mammals and probably attracted the Barn Owl to hunt. Kestrels are also seen regularly hunting along this stretch (Michael O'Clery).

More photos and information can be seen on the Irish Raptors website HERE.

If you find a dead Barn Owl or other raptor on the Tralee Bypass, or anywhere in Kerry, please contact us at the above numbers/email.

You can also download a free Barn Owl booklet HERE. Lots of info about Barn Owls in Ireland.