Tawny Owl – Strix aluco


It is the tawny owl which hoots and is our most common owl. It is totally nocturnal, roosting by day in a hollow tree or thick bush, often holly.

Its habitat is very different to the barn owl, being mainly woodland areas and its diet of small mammals and birds will also consist of more woodland species such as mice. Its nest will generally be in a tree and is constructed of wood-dust, pellets and feathers or material from birds nests. Often it will simply occupy an empty crow’s or pigeon’s nest or a squirrel’s drey.

The tawny owl is found throughout Britain right up to the north of Scotland, but is not present in Ireland.

Origin: Native.
Size: 38 cm.
Description: Chestnut-brown, streaked with buffs, blacks and whites. Breast is pale buff, streaked with arrows of black-brown. Short tail.
Habitat: Deciduous or mixed woodland, but also in mature coniferous forests, parks and frequently suburban areas where there are plenty of trees.
Young: 2 – 4 white glossy eggs in early March. Like all owls it begins incubation immediately after the first egg is laid so that the young develop at different rates. Incubation period 28 – 30 days. Male feeds brood for 21 days. Young fledge after 32 – 37 days.
Nest: Usually in a hole in a tree, sometimes in an old squirrel’s drey or crow’s nest.
Diet: Field mice, voles and shrews, birds, especially sparrows and starlings. Occasionally fish, frogs and newts.
Population: Pre-breeding season estimated to be 100,000 breeding pairs.