Barn owl is a nationally threatened bird enlisted as Vulnerable. Considering the need for an inventory of its occurrence in Nepal, the first scientific study was conducted in 2015 on its presence in Kathmandu valley landscape by Ms. Sabita Gurung, wildlife researcher of SMCRF. This baseline research strongly suggested need to study the Barn owl diet requirements and rodent availability along the land use gradient. These insights are important to understand ecological attributes supporting the Barn owl presence and overall ecosystem requirements for the species in the complex landscape of Kathmandu valley. The ongoing project on assessment of diet composition, prey abundance and conservation threats of Barn Owl along the urban-rural gradient in Kathmandu valley, Nepal aims to study the diet of the Barn Owl, the related small prey abundance and conservation issues along the urban-rural gradient in the valley.
The team has already completed the summer and winter phase survey of rodents and shrews by live capture-recapture method at six different sites in the valley along the urban-rural gradient. Barn owl pellets are being collected from the existing roosting and nesting sites to study its dietary composition. Conservation issues is documented through habitat assessments around the roosting and nesting sites. This helps in understanding the ecological role of Barn owl in relation to its prey species and habitat requirements, and will be crucial data for developing effective measures for long term conservation of this species in human dominated landscape. The team is now working with data analysis completing all the field works. The project is led by Ms. Sabita Gurung of SMCRF with financial support from Nagao Environment Foundation, Japan and research equipment support from IDEA WILD, NTNC, Himalayan Nature and SMCRF.