Tawny Owls are in decline and the availability of suitable nest sites and competition for them with introduced grey squirrels may be a factor. Natural nest sites are scarce in managed parks and woodland where damaged and dead trees are removed for safety reasons. Therefore the provision of additional nest sites, by installing nest boxes, should improve the chances of Tawny Owls breeding successfully. A further problem with nest boxes in public places is the risk of interference and disturbance by people. Tawny Owls have previously bred in the Blackpool Zoo and Stanley Park area and have been seen there again recently. Therefore the perfect location to site a Tawny Owl box is within the Zoo grounds, where it will be protected and where there are suitable trees. Tawny Owls are woodland birds and are strictly nocturnal . They are difficult to locate at their day roosts, where they sit still and quiet during day light. Tawny Owls are most likely to be heard during the winter when they give their distinctive hooting and ‘keewick’ calls.
Barn Owls are reliant on suitable nest sites near good hunting territory, in open rough grassland. Such sites are limited and largely within buildings. The provision of suitable nest boxes can make a real difference to their population. It is known that Barn Owls have bred in buildings at the Zoo before and there is suitable hunting habitat for Barn Owls to the east of the Zoo in the Lawson Field, Marton Mere and De Vere Golf Course area. The Zoo was therefore a natural choice for the location of a new Barn Owl nest box. Unlike Tawny Owls, Barn Owls are not so strictly nocturnal and are likely to be seen at dawn and dusk hunting short tailed field voles, along the edges of paths and fields.
The Fylde Bird Club is a local conservation Charity which works to promote and support active conservation measures in the Fylde area. A part of this work is the provision of nest boxes for a number of species where this activity is known to be of benefit. The Club is therefore pleased to be able to collaborate with Blackpool Zoo, in the conservation of two local owl species, by providing nest boxes for wild owls within the Zoo grounds.