Appeal to help count distinctive owl


DO YOU hear a noise in your back garden like a rusty gate being opened at night? If so, you most likely have a long-eared owl on your patch.

The distinctive sound of the young long-eared owl is being used by the Heritage Council and BirdWatch Ireland in an attempt to discover how many of the birds are in Ireland.

Owls are not easily counted, with most being nocturnal, but the organisations have now issued an appeal for volunteers to help count the birds.

Volunteers are being asked to venture into their local woodland to listen for the distinctive sound, an indication owlets are present.

“While we are asking people to go out into woodland at night, it is fair to say the long-eared owl can turn up anywhere,” said Brian Caffrey of BirdWatch Ireland.

“If you are living anywhere in the country. . . with a mature garden with large trees or strong hedges, the owls could be there.

“The young have this very distinctive ‘rusty gate’ sound and that is the best way to discover where they are,” he added.

“We are using whatever technologies we can to find out just how many of the birds we have because this will be the first time in 20 years we will have a record of how they are doing.”

Mr Caffrey said already many people had reported sightings, which would be listed in the Bird Atlas for Ireland and Britain, which is being compiled.

For further information log onto birdwatch where the call of young owls can be heard or: heritage