Yorkshire wildlife artist and filmmaker Robert E Fuller has appealed to landowners to make the water troughs they use for livestock safe for bathing owls.

The plea comes as a barn owl who starred on the artist’s popular wildlife YouTube channel drowned on Wednesday (July 13th) in a deep-sided trough in a valley close to the artist’s home in Thixendale, North Yorkshire.

'Sadly, this is all too common a problem, especially in hot weather and during the breeding season when owls tend to bathe in troughs,” explained Robert.

Named Finn by his fans on YouTube, the drowned barn owl was a popular character on Robert’s channel due to his gentle nature.

“My cameras, hidden inside this owl nest and broadcast to more than 50 million people around the world each week, meant this owl was well known and loved.

“Finn was adored by fans of my YouTube Channel and other social media outlets. Since I announced his death this morning, there has been an outpouring of grief from his many fans around the world,” said Robert

“He was very attached to his partner, whose name is Gylfie, and their three chicks and could often be seen standing faithfully by his family.

“I’m particularly sad because Finn is a barn owl that I released here as a young chick in 2019. He was rescued after falling from a straw stack and given a second chance at life and it’s just tragic that yet again he’s become a victim of human adaptations. Particularly as he was just preparing for a second brood.

“Worst of all is that this was so easily preventable. Just an upside-down plastic crate or a float can give the owls something to rest on while they wash,” he explained.

Mr Fuller works alongside local landowners and has made most of the livestock troughs around his home in Thixendale safe.

“Unfortunately, I missed one and this is where Finn has drowned. It just shows how dangerous even one can be for wildlife.”

According to the Barn Owl Trust, steep sided troughs or water butts are a common problem, especially during the breeding season and in hot weather when adult owls get dirty in the nest and need to wash themselves.

“Natural places for birds to bathe, like ponds and streams, have shallow edges, and ditches have rough sides, and so the birds don’t expect what seem like small bodies of water to be so deep,” explained Robert.