Yorkshire's hatched barn owl eggs spark recovery hopes

Barn owl hovering over eggs in a nest box The two barn owl eggs hatched in the nest box on Tuesday night

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Two out of six barn owl eggs laid in a nest box in North Yorkshire have hatched sparking hopes of a population recovery.

Wildlife conservationist Robert Fuller, from Thixendale, put up 10 nest boxes in the area last year to help the birds survive and breed.

A clutch of six barn owl eggs were laid by a breeding pair last month.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust warned that recent harsh winters had left the barn owl numbers "at an all time low".

The two eggs hatched on Tuesday night.

Mr Fuller, who has put up a total of 150 nest boxes over the last five years, is monitoring the remaining four eggs, which he expects to hatch in the next few days.

The Trust, which is running a campaign to save barn owls, said the number of breeding pairs in the UK was estimated to be 4,000 in the mid 2000s. Last year it dropped to 1,000.

The charity said the barn owl population had been in decline since World War Two due to the loss of habitat and nest sites, but the recent "run of bad winters, and the prolonged snow of March 2013 had left the UK's population of barn owls at the lowest it has ever been".

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