Tawny owl

Tawny owl ©Margaret Holland

Tawny owl

Scientific name: Strix aluco
Tawny owls are the familiar brown owls of Britain’s woodlands, parks and gardens. They are known for their ‘too-wit too-woo’ song that can be heard at night-time.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 37-39cm
Wingspan: 99cm
Weight: 420-520g
Average lifespan: 4 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December

About

Tawny owls are our biggest common owl, familiar in Britain’s woodland, parks and gardens. The‘too-wit too-woo’ call often referred to as being the song of the generic owl, is that of the tawny owl. But it isn’t the call of a single bird, but instead made by a male and female calling to each other.The female makes a ‘too-wit’ sound and the male answers with ‘too-woo’! These incredible creatures sit on their favourite perch on the lookout for small animals like voles and mice to eat. They nest during springtime in hollow trees, or sometimes choose to reuse an old crow’s nest!

How to identify

The tawny owl is mottled reddish-brown, with a paler underside. It has a big, round head, rounded wings, large, dark eyes, and a dark ring around its face.

Distribution

Widespread, but absent from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Did you know?

Like other owls, tawny owl can famously turn their head through 270 degrees and are able to look behind them. Although owls have binocular vision, their forward-facing eyes cannot move in their sockets, so they must turn their heads instead.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices. Across town and country, The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.

Watch

Tawny Owl by Tom Hibbert