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The barn owl is making a comeback

The barn owl is making a comeback

The barn owl is making a comeback

They were once threatened with extinction from Ireland but the iconic barn owl is making an amazing comeback.

Birdwatch Ireland has revealed that last year was the most productive yet for the secretive bird.

A total of 192 nesting sites were found while a further 59 nest boxes were used by the bird.

It follows decades of decline in the population of the bird which is rarely seen during the day.

The image of the barn owl will be familiar to millions of Irish people as it has been the signature image of RTE’s Late Late Show for decades.

As the numbers dwindled, Birdwatch Ireland set up a conservation campaign and selected sites throughout the country to gauge the population and breeding trends.

The birds survive on small mammals and frogs and usually nest in ruined buildings such as old churches and castles.

According to Birdwatch Ireland’s Niall Hatch, the early signs are the bird is recovering in some parts of the country and there could be anything up to one thousand of the birds across the country now.

However, rat poison is still keeping the numbers of barn owls down in certain areas, he said.

“The birds are doing very well in Munster, especially in Tipperary and Cork where there is plenty of food such as vowels and shrew for them.

“They are not doing so well in Leinster or in Ulster but hopefully we can change that going forward having identified their breeding patterns and needs.

“Rat poison is still a big issue for them. They eat rats and mice which have eaten poison and they in turn, ingest it which will kill them over a period of time or lead them to having less young.

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“But overall things are looking up for them and we would encourage anybody who sees them to send their sightings to us.”

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