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. This project on “Assessment of diet composition, prey abundance and conservation threats of Barn owl along the urban-rural gradient in Kathmandu Valley”
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. This project aimed to study the diet of the Barn owl, the related small prey abundance and conservation issues along the urban-rural gradient in the valley and assess the conservation issues.
The diet of Barn owl was assessed by the analysis the regurgitated pellets collected from the nest and roost sites. The overall diet comprised 87.04% small mammals with predominance of Suncus murinus both in urban and rural area. A total of 343 individuals of rodents and shrews belonging to eight species were live captured deploying three types of traps; Sherman Trap, Tube Trap and Local Trap. The combined trap-success was highest in sub-urban area both during summer and winter . There was significant difference in capture of rodent and shrew along the urban-rural gradient. The species richness varied along the gradient and season with highest species richness in rural area in both seasons; summer and winter. There was significant influence of trap-type in capturing the species of rodents and shrews. The nesting was found in highly urban area revealing the occurrence of Barn owl positively associated with higher abundance of prey items in the urban. This study provides baseline data on the prey species of Barn owl through pellet analysis along with abundance pattern of rodents and shrews along the urban-rural gradient which could help in evaluating the habitat requirements, toleration and adaptation of the Barn owls and implement conservation programs. The findings of this project helps in understanding the ecological role of Barn owl in relation to its prey species and habitat requirements, and could be crucial data for developing effective measures for long term conservation of this species in human dominated landscape. 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.