Birds of Prey hunt for and feed on small mammals, birds and carrion, and also larger insects and earthworms when prey is in short supply. Birds of prey can be found in Barnsley in a range of habitats.
Barn Owl (green listed) and Kestrel (amber) are farmland bird indicator species, and Local Priority Species because of their local interest and significance.
Two other birds of prey that breed on moorlands are identified as Local Priority Species below.
Barn Owl can be seen hunting rough grassland and field edges for voles and other small mammals, at dusk or dawn.
Heart-shaped face, buff back and wings and white underparts are distinguishing features - plus its shrieking call and large dark pellets left at its roosts.
Barn Owl is a scarce, resident breeding bird in Barnsley with up to 35 breeding pairs, almost all in lowland areas east of the M1.
Local Priority Habitats
Barn Owls nest and roost in tree cavities, farm buildings, and nest boxes in buildings and outside.
They pair in February with 4-6 eggs laid in April / May. The young usually hatch in early June and fledge in August.
Declines result from reduced small mammal numbers with fewer areas of rough grassland, together with loss of nest sites, road deaths severe winters and the impact of pesticides.
Schedule 1 protection W&C Act
Kestrel, reddish-brown, with long wings and tail, is often seen hovering, over roadside verges hunting for prey.
Kestrel is most numerous in areas of rough grassland where small mammals can be found. In Barnsley up to 200 breeding pairs, are found in all areas.
Kestrels feed mainly on voles as well as other small mammals such as mice and shrews, small birds, insects and earthworms.
Local Priority Habitats
Kestrels do not build a nest but use holes in trees, buildings, old crow nests and nest boxes.
4 – 6 eggs, laid in a shallow scrape, take about 30 days to hatch, with the young flying some 30 days later.
Declines result from reduced small mammal numbers with fewer areas of rough grassland as well as loss of nest sites and the impact of pesticides.
General protection W&C Act
Breeding birds of prey
Sched. 1 Red list: Merlin
Sched. 1, Green list: Barn Owl, Goshawk, Hobby, Peregrine
Sched. 1 Amber list: Marsh Harrier, Short-eared Owl
Amber list: Kestrel, Tawny Owl
Green List: Buzzard, Goshawk, Long-eared Owl, Sparrowhawk, [Little Owl introduced]
Two other birds of prey breeding on upland moors are Local Priority Species. These are Merlin (red listed) and Short-eared Owl (amber). These two birds of prey are species for which the South Pennine Moors Phase 1) has been classified as a Special Protection Area (SPA) (see Upland birds for details)
It should be noted that Barnsley Owls, Merlins and Peregrine Falcons are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.