Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

Tawny Owl

The Tawny Owl is found throughout Britain (with the exception of Ireland), most of Europe & Russia (though not the more northerly regions) through to Asia & China & some of the north of Africa. The earliest records of Tawny Owls in Britain date back to the Ice Ages. There are 12 sub-species of the Tawny Owl, those inhabitat the more northerly regions are anywhere up to 12% larger & 40% heavier than the sub-species native to the UK (Strix aluco sylvatica).

This is the owl associated with the "to-wit to-woo" call. The call is thought to be made by a pair of owls that jointly hold a territory, defending that territory. The female of the pair is responsible for the "to-wit", and the male, often some distance away, at the opposite end of the territory replies with "oo-ooo", the timing being so accurate as to seem like one call. In captivity though, single owls have been heard making both of the sounds.

The Tawny Owl is the UK's largest breeding owl. The current UK population estimated at between 15,000 - 40,000 pairs, though some estimates but the population at 350,000 during winter. One aid to avoiding persecution, is the fact that it is largely nocturnal, making hunting difficult. It is very adaptable to changing circumstances & habitats, though the prevalence of Dutch Elm Disease reducing its nesting sites did take some toll. The use of pesticides had remarkably little affect on the population.

The Tawny Owl is nocturnal, roosting during the daytime in trees. It mainly preys on small rodents & roosting birds. Small invertebrates, including worms, will get eaten too. It is believed that they will also take fish out of garden ponds, when there is a scarcity of other food. Although normally silent in flight, Tawny Owls have been observed flying low over hedgerows beating their wings to disturb & flush out their prey, particularly roosting songbirds (so have Long-Eared Owls & Barn Owls).

Tawny Owls live mainly in wooded areas, using holes in trees as nests, rather than building their own. Sometimes use old squirrel drays. Have been known to use old nests or nest on the ground, if no other suitable nest sites are available. They will also nest in suburban gardens. They can be aggressive & have been known to attack humans in defence of their nests.

A pair of Tawny Owls will produce only one brood per year, laying between 2 - 5 egg starting around the beginning to middle of March, with up to a week between each egg. Incubation starts with the first egg, which means that the eggs hatch at different times (incubation period is around 28-30 days). Once hatched, both parents are involved in feeding, until the young are forced to leave at about 2-3 months old. The young are capable of flying from around 5 weeks after hatching.

Tawny Owls are long-lived in the wild, many living up to 18 years. The European record (from a ringing study) is 21years & 6 months.

IUCN Red List Status :

Least Concern (LC)

Also Called :

Brown Owl
Brown Hoolert
Brown Ullert
Billy Hooter
Hill Hooter
Jinny Hooter
Ferny Hoolet
Beech Owl
Brown Ivey Owl
Hollering Owl
Tawny Hooting Owl
Aderyn corph
Dylluan felynddu
Dylluan fig
Dylluan frech
Dylluan rudd
Dylluan y coed
Tylluan frech
Cailleach-oidhche (Owl or lit. Old Wife/Crone Of The Night ??)
Comhachag-dhonn (Brown Owl)
Irish Ulchabhán donn (Brown Owl)
Catalan Gamarús
Danish Natugle
Dutch Bosuil
Esperanto arbarstrigo
Estonian Kodukakk
Færoese Músagjóð
Finnish Lehtopöllö
French Chouette Hulotte
German Waldkauz (Old codger/fogey of the woods ??)
Hungarian Macskabagoly
Icelandic Náttugla
Italian Allocco
Latvian Meža Pūce
Naminė Pelėda
Norwegian Kattugle
Polish Puszczyk
Portuguese Coruja-do-mato
Russian Серая Неясыть (Seraya Neyasyt)
Cárabo Común
Swedish Kattuggla
Chinese hui lin xiao (Grey Forest Owl)
Japanese mori fukuroo (Forest Owl)
Vietnamese hù nivicon (Nivicola Wood Owl)

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