British wildlife recordings

Strix aluco : Tawny Owl - Strigidae

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  • Shelf mark

    W1CDR0001489 BD10

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  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Pinbury Park, Gloucestershire: OS Grid Reference(395500,204500)

  • Recordist

    Williams, Aubrey John

  • Species

    Tawny Owl, Strix aluco

  • Description

    Call made by a tawny owl recorded at Pinbury Park, Gloucestershire. Of all British owls, the tawny owl is the most likely to be heard as it has adapted to large gardens, churchyards, and parks in addition to its ancestral woodland habitat. Its call is one of the most recognisable animal sounds in Britain. The tawny owl is essentially nocturnal and generally spends the daylight hours roosting in trees and hidden against the trunk or amongst ivy. When flushed, the short broad wings, streaky-brown plumage and pale facial disk are very distinctive as the bird flies soundlessly through the trees. The familiar 'hooo-hoo-hooo' call is the male proclaiming his territory and courting the resident female, and can be heard throughout the winter. Another distinctive call is a sharp 'ke-wick', which is the contact call made by and between males and females. The bulk of their diet consists of small mammals, but tawny owls are opportunistic and will feed on anything from birds and worms to frogs and even fish. Tawny owls nest in natural or man-made cavities and produce between two and five eggs, though fledging success depends on the availability of food that year. Established pairs probably never leave their territories and it is estimated that 20,000 pairs breed in Britain.

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