The barn owl is one of Britains' best loved birds and is currently the focus of a joint project to both increase numbers and provide nesting boxes across Eastern England.

The Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Ornithological Group have combined to help boost the population of this graceful - and once common - bird in the former barn owl stronghold of Suffolk. It's estimated that only around 120 pairs, out of a national population of 4-5,000, live in England's most easterly county, with the reduction of suitable nesting sites - such as barns and hollow trees - being blamed for the decline.

The project aims to introduce over 500 barn owl boxes in Suffolk over the next three years, and also advise farmers and landowners of the benefits of a nesting pair. The main diet of the barn owl is young voles, but mice and young rats are also taken regularly - and mice in particular can cause havoc in kitchen gardens and on smallholdings.

For full details of the joint project, visit the Suffolk Wildlife Trust where you can also find out how to help - from making your own nesting box to monitoring an existing pair of owls. You may even find that your local wildlife trust is running a similar initiative!