Tawny owl

Tawny owl
Strix aluco
(Photo from IVN Vecht & Plassengebied)

Common name:

Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

This species is found throughout continental Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to southern Scandinavia. It is also found in Great Britain. It also occurs in Asian Russia and across Iran and the Himalayas all the way to southern China.

Tawny owls are 41-46 cm long and have a wingspan of 90-105 cm. They weigh 400-800 g.

They are mostly found in broad-leaved or mixed woodland, but will also inhabit trees in hedgerows, parkland, churchyards, farmland, and coniferous forests. In winter it may take shelter in disused buildings and rock cavities.


Tawny Owls hunt almost entirely at night, usually waiting quietly on a perch, watching and listening until they drop on their prey. They take a wide variety of prey, mostly rabbits, moles, mice, shrews, voles, and other rodents, but also earthworms, insects, birds, frogs, fish, lizards, molluscs and crustaceans.

These birds breed in March-July. They nest in a natural hole or a nest box in a tree, but occasionally nests have been found on ledges of old buildings and in chimneys. There the female lays 2-6 pure white eggs, which she incubates alone for 28-29 days while the male brings her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 28-37 days after hatching, but remain dependent on their parents for food up to 3 months after leaving the nest.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
Tawny owls have an extremely large breeding range and a global population of 2-6 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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