Scientific Journal of the BirdLife Hungary

A Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület tudományos folyóirata

Ornis Hungarica. vol.31(2). (2023) p.203-216.

Breeding and conservation status of the Western Barn Owl (Tyto alba) in Zala County, Hungary. An overview of 39 years of data
Ákos Klein, Róbert Mátics & Zoltán Schneider

Download full article: [pdf] (3898 Kb)


In this study, we analysed the occurrence, nesting, and ringing data spanning 39 years for the Western Barn Owl (Tyto alba) population in Zala County. Data on Barn Owl surveys originate from 166 out of the total of 258 settlements in the county. During the examined period, nesting was recorded in 74 settlements, while an additional 28 locations have confirmed Western Barn Owl presence (pellets, owl sightings). Furthermore, surveys were conducted at least once in an additional 64 locations without any sign of the species. Based on Barn Owl presence and nesting data, preferred locations for the species can be identified at the local and landscape level. Nesting may be occasional in some places, while a few traditional nesting sites, which show nearly continuous occupation over decades, can be considered stable. The results from Zala County are in line with other research, highlighting the continued importance of church buildings for the species’ nesting. Maintaining these buildings is essential for the conservation of a stable population. Given the decreasing number of accessible churches, there is a need for providing alternative nesting sites. In addition to building closures, the future doubling of the length of motorways in the county will pose another significant threat to the regional population.