BARN owls have been stolen from a box in an oak tree on a North Yorkshire farm.

North Yorkshire Police have appealed for help in tracking down the thieves and the birds.

A force spokesman said thieves entered a field at a farm between Sheriff Hutton and Bulmer, to the north of York, and used ladders to get a man-made barn owl box that had been placed in an oak tree.

He said a male and female adult bird had been nesting in the box and two newly fledged chicks were killed and an adult and chick were removed from the box and taken away.

“The pair had successfully reared chicks in the location for the last seven years,” he said.

“The barn owls were being closely watched by locals and were working hard to get their chicks to be ready for fledging.”

He said the theft happened on or about last Monday and was reported to police last Wednesday.

“Barn owls can be bred legally in captivity but it is an offence to take birds from the wild,” he said.

“It would appear that these birds have been stolen to order.

“Police are appealing for any information in relation to either adult barn owls or chicks.

“Have people been offered one for sale in suspicious circumstances or do they know anyone who has bought a barn owl in the last week or so?

“All barn owls in captivity will have important paperwork and should have a ring on their leg.

“Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact us on 101, select option 2, and ask for PC 931 Jez Walmsley and can also email

“If they wish to remain anonymous, they can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, quoting the North Yorkshire Police reference number 121701194334.”