Its ghostly form was a more common sight for generations past.
But it seems the eerie screech of the barn owl, which gave rise to the myth of the banshee, is once again going to become a familiar sound in the early spring.
When BirdWatch Ireland, working in partnership with Cork County Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, completed a survey of Barn Owls across the county, the results showed that the fortunes of this iconic farmland bird appear to be changing.
In fact, barn owls were recorded in numbers not seen in Cork in the past 50 years.
Previous surveys had shown that barn owls were widespread throughout the county in the late 1960s, but 20 years later their numbers had drastically reduced, and their range had contracted significantly.
The latest survey enlisted the help of farmers and the general public who reported information on barn owls across the county, and also involved systematically checking a wide range of ruined structures, which are typical nesting sites.
The results were positive, with an increase in recorded barn owl breeding range of 132% in County Cork over the last 10 years, and an impressive increase of 480% since the 1980s when the owl population of Cork was at its lowest recorded extent.
In total, 114 nest sites were found in the county, with the majority of these in ruined and abandoned buildings.
“It is heartening to see that the barn owl population in Cork County is now on the increase.” said Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Frank O’Flynn.
“The next phase of this work will see the continuation of a nest box project, with suitable sites identified throughout Cork County. It is hoped that annual monitoring of barn owl nests in Cork will continue, which will contribute to an understanding of the local population trajectories and the pressures barn owls face.
“We must work to safeguard the future of this wonderful species.”