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Tawny Owl


The most common species of British owl, Tawny owls are around the size of a pigeon, and are mainly brown in colour with lighter colours underneath. They can be located all over England Scotland and Wales but not Ireland and these particular owls have territories where once established, do not tend to stray very far.

As with most owls, they are nocturnal and can regularly be heard but not seen. They can be spotted all year round and their diet consists of small animals such as frogs, Mice, Shrews, small birds and fish.
There are currently around 19,500 breeding pairs in England Scotland and Wales.
It is a common assumption that owls have very good sight in order to catch their prey during the dark hours but actually their retina is no more sensitive as the average human beings. It is their hearing that is exceptional, and their asymmetrically placed ears ensure they can hear everything at all times. This is key to hunting at night.
Young tawny owls stay with their parents until they are around three months old and it is then they are free to find their own territory. If they fail at this, they will starve.
Female Tawny owls are bigger than males and are usually 20-40% heavier with a larger wingspan
Tawny owls make their homes in holes in trees or buildings, however, specially built nest boxes can also be used. Common preditors of the tawny owl are other larger birds such as Eagle owls and Buzzards and the red fox is a threat to fledglings as they are finding their feet at an early age. Prey is normally swallowed whole, with the indigestible parts regurgitated as pellets. These are grey, and consist of mainly  rodent fur, with protruding bones. The diet is made of, small mammals, birds, amphibians, worms and beetles, mostly between dusk and dawn.


Quick Facts

First clutches laid
Late March

Number of broods

Number in Britain

Conservation Status UK

Status in UK
Resident Breeder

38 cm



Forest, woodland, towns

First Record
8th Century

Egg Size
48x39 mm

Egg Weight
39 g

Clutch Size
2-3 eggs

30 days

35-39 days

Age at First Breeding
1 year

Typical Lifespan
5 years

Maximum Recorded Age
21 years. 5 months