Starving barn owls falling victim to wintry weather, RSPB warns

Barn owls are starving to death because of the cold weather, a wildlife charity said today.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the numerous death reports it has received could have "serious conservation implications".

Freezing conditions make finding food almost impossible so the birds were dying of starvation in their roosts.

The RSPB said the impending second big freeze, expected this weekend and going into next week, will make the situation worse.

It appealed for members of the public to watch out for birds they know are roosting.

RSPB investigations officer Mark Thomas said: "We have been receiving a growing number of calls from people who have discovered dead barn owls in recent days and we believe it's because they are starving in the cold weather as the icy, snowy conditions make their main food sources like voles and mice much harder to find.

"Although practically there is little that can be done to supplement the diets of barn owls, farmers and members of the public are encouraged to remain vigilant and report any sick or injured owls to a wildlife rescue centre immediately.

"It's very distressing for both the birds and the people who discover them, as they are beautiful and charismatic species of the British countryside.

"Prompt action could save the life of a starving bird and once they've been fed up they should soon be fit for release back in the original location."