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Tawny owl (Strix aluco)

The classic woodland owl and a true nocturnal hunter, more often heard than seen.

Common name: tawny owl, brown owl, howlet

Scientific name: Strix aluco

Family: Strigidae


Head: is a rounded shape. The tawny owl has large black eyes with a brown stripe between them, the face is encircled with a ring of dark feathers. 

Wings: are pale brown in colour with mottled brown edges. It has a wingspan of 99cm. 

Body: is mainly brown, but the front has a reddish-brown hue and the underneath is cream coloured. The body, like the head, is rounded and it is roughly the same size as a pigeon.

Where to spot 

The tawny owl is a nocturnal bird but can be seen all year round. It is fairly widespread and can be seen in woods, forests and also in towns.


It hunts between dusk and dawn. It eats small mammals, rodents, birds, frogs, fish, worms, insects and beetles.


The tawny owl first breeds at one year old and lays two to five eggs which it raises between April and June. It nests in tree holes or sometimes uses the old nests of other birds. 


  • The call heard at night is a mix of the females sharp high pitched 'ke-wick' call being answered by the males wavering 'hoo-hoo' - from which derives the well know idea of tu-whit-tu woo
  • Young owls can climb back into the nest should they fall out
  • Typical lifespan is four years.