Tawny Owl Strix aluco   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Strigiformes Family: Strigidae
BTO Codes: TO, TAWOW EURING No: 7610
Number in Britain: 50 thousand Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Resident Breeder
Subspecies: sylvatica recorded in Britain (of 11 subsp. in the world)
Length: 38 cm Wingspan: 99 cm Weight: M: 420 g   F: 520 g    
Scientific name from: Gr.: strix=an owl and Italian: allocco=Tawny Owl (from L.:ulucus=screech-owl)
World Distribution: Eurasia (not north)
Habitat: Forest, woodland, towns
Diet: Small mammals, birds, amphibians, worms and beetles, mostly between dusk and dawn
TitBit: The 'tu-whit, tu woo' call (a corruption of that originally described by Shakespeare in Love's Labour's Lost) probably reflects a male (who hoots) and a female (whose call is now often rendered 'keewick') calling to each other.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Summer: 50 thousand Pairs in 2005
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times [Fossil evidence from Devensian (last) glaciation, 10-120,000 yr ago]
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: GREEN
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern: sylvatica GREEN
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Most frequent in: Deciduous Wood
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
European Population Size:
    Summer: 445 to 900 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: Bern(III), CITES(II)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack
Results from Garden BirdWatch

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 48 x 39 mm Egg Weight: 39.0 g (of which 7 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 389
Clutch Size: 2 - 3 eggs 2.56 ± 0.79 (1 - 6) N = 2607
Incubation: 30 days 29.63 ± 1.53 (27 - 32.5) N = 2607   by the: Female
Fledging: 35 - 39days 36.17 ± 2.81 (32 - 40.5) N = 4255 as: Altricial, downy
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Nest Record Scheme data
First Clutches Laid: 23 Mar (5 Mar - 4 May)
Number of Broods: 1
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.738 ± 0.045       
Juvenile Survival: 0.301 (in First-Year)  
Age at First Breeding: 1 year Typical Lifespan: 4 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 21 years 5 months 13 days (set in 1988)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: G
Wing Length Sexually dimorphic (female much larger than male)
Male: 259.0 ± 7.4 247 - 273 mm, N =54
Female: 273.9 ± 14.8 260 - 283 mm, N =235
Weight Sexually dimorphic (female much larger than male)
Male: 396.0 ± 44.64 335.0 - 482.0 g , N =37
Female: 502.2 ± 58.60 400.0 - 600.0 g , N =179
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Gaelic: Comhachag-dhonn Welsh: Tylluan Frech
Danish: Natugle Dutch: Bosuil
Finnish: Lehtopöllö French: Chouette hulotte
German: Waldkauz Hungarian: Macskabagoly
Icelandic: Náttugla Irish:
Italian: Allocco Norwegian: Kattugle
Polish: Puszczyk zwyczajny Portuguese: Coruja-do-mato
Spanish: Cárabo común Swedish: Kattuggla
Local Names: Brown Owl, Howlet

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Mikkola, H. 1983 Owls of Europe Poyser, Calton [598.71 MIK]
   Galeotti, P. 2001 BWP Update 3:43-77
See Also:
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Wikipedia entry
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BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides