Another load of facts about Tawny Owls
1. Though our most familiar and widespread owl, it is strictly nocturnal and rarely seen during the day unless disturbed.
2. The hooting of a male tawny owl is frequently used in TV and radio
programmes and films to capture the essence of night. It is often
misused in Irish dramas: tawny owls have never occurred in Ireland.
3. Because they don’t like flying over water they are also absent from
many of our islands, including the Isles of Man and Wight, as well as
the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.
4. Source: Only the male owl utters the familiar drawn-out hoot: both males and female also make the well-known kewick call.
5. Male tawny owls will occasionally hoot during the middle of the day.
6. It is relatively easy to imitate a tawny owl by blowing through
cupped hands. A study found that more than 90% of male owls can be
duped into responding.
7. Concern about our tawny owl population prompted the BTO to undertake a recent survey. It revealed that numbers were stable.
8. Owls are often credit with great intelligence: this is a fallacy.
9. There are many superstitions surrounding owls. The hooting of an owl was often thought to be an omen of death.
10. Hill hooter and screech owl are both old names for the tawny.
Several names are a reminder of its daytime roosts: wood owl, beech owl
and ivy owl.
11. The pioneer bird photographer Eric Hosking lost an eye to a tawny
owl while trying to photograph it. His biography was aptly titled An
eye for a bird.
12. Tawny owls are famous for the fierce defence of their young: bird
ringers usually wear crash helmets with visors to protect themselves
when ringing baby tawnies.
13. Tawnies are specially adapted for hunting in woodland, for their short wings give them great manoeuvrability.
14. Like almost all owls, the wings of a tawny owl are completely silent.
15. Though small mammals are their favoured prey, an amazing variety of
prey has been recorded in the tawny owl’s diet, ranging from small fish
and lizards to bats and hawkmoths.
16. Among the unlikely birds noted as prey are adult mallard and kittiwake.
17. The average distance ringed tawny owls have flown between being ringed and being recovered is 1km.
18. Adult tawnies drive their youngsters out of their territories after
the breeding season. As a result, nearly two-thirds of youngsters die
in their first year.
19. They like to nest in holes in trees, but will readily adopt nest boxes.
20. Few birds are harder to census than these, so estimates of the British population are really only educated guesses.
21. It is thought that the British population is around 20,000 pairs.
Kathy and Dave
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654