Monday, 7 September 2015

Day 299 - Terrificaly Omniscient Tawny Owls

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
Hey everyone today's Day 299 and I like to go to a place called Silton Forest on the edge of the North York Moors. Now, when you go on a wildlife walk, you shouldn't just look out for wildlife when you are actually there, you should look around when you are going to and from the place. So, when I was coming back from the Forest, we noticed something in the middle of the road. We looked closer and we found out that it was a Tawny Owl! We got some pictures and watched it for a while before it flew off. It was a wonderful encounter as the Owl didn't seem at all bothered by our presence. It hopped of the road on to the hedge on the side of the road and sat there surveying the countryside while we watched. I was amazing, I've never spent so long so close to a wild owl before. Truly an amazing experience!

So, I did my research and here are the facts:
    What's that in the road - it's an Owl!
  • They are resident in every single area of the British Mainland but nowhere else. Not Ireland, the Orkneys, The Isle of Wight, nowhere.
  • They are a Green status as there hasn't been any declines in the population in the last century or so. It would seem they are adaptable and able to cope with all the changes that have happened in more building and more intense agriculture.
  • There are about 50,000 breeding pairs in the UK meaning there are a huge 100,000 adults in the UK! Amazing then that I haven't seen many before!
  • Now, why don't see them very often? Where are they all? If you look at their eyes are you'll see they are black, this shows they hunt at night...
    It flew up onto the hedge to survey the countryside
  • ...I was told this at a Birds of Prey show and they said that if the eyes are orange, they are usually seen at dusk and dawn and if they are black, they hunt at night. All the more surprising that the Owl I saw was so accomodating, it was still quite light when I saw it! 
  • Surprisingly though they cannot see in complete darkness but it takes a very overcast night before they cannot hunt in woodland as they eyes are much much better than ours in the dark.
  • They have a wingspan of 38cm and their wingspan is 99cm. Their ring size is G.
  • Males weigh, on average, 420g. Females are bigger and are usually 520g. This is known as sexual dimorphism.
    It didn't mind us being there - this was one of my best bird experiences!
  • They first breed at 1 year and usually live until 4 years. The oldest died in 1988 and lived for 21 years, 5 months and 13 days.
  • A Tawny Owl will have one brood a year and will lay around 2 to 3 eggs in a clutch between March and May.
  • Eggs hatch in around 30 days and the chicks are in the nest for a further 35-40 days before they fledge
  • Their diet is rather varied and can include small mammals, birds, amphibians, worms  and beetles
  • When Owls in general eat they consume all of the prey and then collect all of the bits they cant digest into a pellet. They then cough this up. If you find a pellet you can have a great time dissecting them and you can work out which Owl coughed up the pellet from its content. I did a post on this a while ago. Here's the video that I did on my dissection of a Bran Owl pellet.

  • Part of a Tawny Owls latin name translates from latin meaning 'screech owl'. They are quite vocal birds that I love to hear at night and make noises like 'tu-whit tu-whoo' (males) and 'keewick' (females).
Here are a few links to some more information:

RSPB - Tawny Owl

BTO Birdfacts - Tawny Owl

BBC Nature - Tawny Owl

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Such a stunning owl, Zach, you must have been so excited to see one! - Tasha

    1. It really was amazing, never had a wild raptor be as calm as this, normally they're gone in a flash!