The Barn Owl Monitoring Programme (BOMP) was a survey designed to determine site occupancy rate and breeding success of Barn Owls by having licensed volunteers visit and monitor potential nest sites during the breeding season. It ran from 2000 to 2009. A final report on the survey findings is available here (PDF, 390.2 KB).
The Barn Owl is a very special species, a much loved icon of the struggle between wildlife and agricultural changes in the UK. Numbers have plummeted since the 1930s, but in recent years, many people in the countryside—landowners, farmers, conservationists and birdwatchers—have invested a great deal of money, time and energy in an attempt to reverse this population decline.
Fortunately Barn Owls take very readily to nestboxes in the UK. As a result, the number of nestboxes put up for them has mushroomed. Following the Barn Owl declines noted during the Hawk Trust national survey in 1982-85, the number of nestboxes has risen from around 6,000 to approximately 25,000 in the mid 1990s. Barn Owl groups have been established throughout the UK, many as part of the Barn Owl Conservation Network, which aims to increase Barn Owl numbers from 4,000 to 6,000 pairs by 2012.
One of the recommendations to come out of the national survey Project Barn Owl (PDF, 92.17 KB) in 1995-97 was the need for an annual Barn Owl monitoring programme. Many Barn Owl workers already submitted data from the sites that they monitored to the Nest Record Scheme. However, there was still a great deal of local information not reaching the national scheme and, until recently, no information was being gathered on nestbox occupancy rates (ie changes in the numbers of Barn Owls that attempt to breed each year).
BOMP aimed to plug this gap. Over the 10 years the survey ran, it gathered additional information about Barn Owl breeding activity and enabled us to find out more about Barn Owl population dynamics.
More about the survey
An overview of the BOMP methodology is available here.
For an interesting history of Barn Owl monitoring in the UK, please see here.