Barn Owl Ecology in NZ

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
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Barn Owl Ecology in NZ

Postby bombaydave2 » Tue May 12, 2020 7:34 pm

Hi All,
this post is strictly about Barn Owl ecology and behavior, Please, no comments on the hows and whys of their presence in NZ - I am more interested in how they "fit" into the NZ environment.
In 1992 I was part of a study of Barn owls in the UK- key points below.
Does anyone have information on or can point me in the right direction for diet(pellet analysis), nest site location/ type and range spread over the last few years.
Also were the Hunua birds released there or just turn up? A group of 3 indicates one parent and 2 young - based on studies in the UK male and female barn owls are generally solitary unless breeding and males often left when young were flying.
Many thank, Dave

Study of 6 pairs of Barn Owls over a year – 3 pairs were radio tracked
Barn Owl ecology on Easy Anglian Farmland 1992
Nest & Roost sites are different
Birds can travel up to 5km hunting
Home ranges are dynamic- larger in winter/ Out of breeding season range expands – birds become more solitary. One bird travelled
Barn owls will cache food at roost sites
Nest site included barns, holes in trees, ruined buildings & straw/ hay stacks(NB: Nestboxes were readily used if available)
Birds avoided open arable land – preferred rough grassland and scrub
Diet was predominantly small rodents – vole, shrew, mouse, rat & occasionally stoat. Rats in diet increased in winter which was reflected in their hunting habitats - more farm buildings visited
In winter, when rodent population was lowest diet included birds. Approx. less than 5% in summer and up to 20% in winter
Each owl had a different hunting technique/ preferred hunting habitat
Disused land was popular with birds – old airfields, house ruins, graveyards
One bird traveled over 100km in winter and still returned to home range in breeding season
In good prey years breeding success is high. One brood had 5 eggs, although only 3 chicks survived
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Re: Barn Owl Ecology in NZ

Postby bombaydave2 » Thu May 14, 2020 2:19 pm

Interesting lack of response?
Does that mean no one knows much or don't want to post on public forum.
Any way I have contacted some people and done some research.
Found some great studies/ articles on line. In particular
Notornis, 2009, Vol. 56: 169-175
0029-4470 © The Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Inc.
First record of barn owls (Tyto alba) breeding in the wild in
New Zealand
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Re: Barn Owl Ecology in NZ

Postby Jim_j » Thu May 14, 2020 3:18 pm


There was the guy from Wingspan in Rotorua - who posted some really interesting info in one of the Barn Owl threads.
If you missed it you can probably just do a search on this site?
Sorry I just can't recall his name.

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Re: Barn Owl Ecology in NZ

Postby bombaydave2 » Thu May 14, 2020 4:25 pm

Thanks Jim. That's probably noel hyde - I am trying to contact him through wingspan. Wingspan have referenced some great articles regarding barn owls in nz and aus.
Noel Hyde
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Re: Barn Owl Ecology in NZ

Postby Noel Hyde » Mon May 18, 2020 10:20 pm

Hi Dave, I've just found your thread. Your UK studies are much more in depth than what we have achieved, although a few of your points we have found similar. Our resources are limited, we have not used telemetry and only been doing one field trip a year since 2008. We're slowly gaining a better understanding of their ecology in NZ and I'm presently doing a diet study through pellet analysis, so will have more to report on that in due course.
Regards Noel
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Joined: Thu May 23, 2019 10:54 pm

Re: Barn Owl Ecology in NZ

Postby bombaydave2 » Wed May 20, 2020 7:13 pm

Hi noel, I'm keen to help and also have the study. Can email it to you. Send me an email. nz

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