Tawny Owl - Strix aluco


The Tawny Owl is the size of a pigeon. It has a rounded body and head, with a ring of dark feathers around its face surrounding the dark eyes. It is mainly reddish brown above and paler underneath.

Identification difficulty

Mainly in broadleaf woodland, but also around conifers and scrub.

When to see it

All year round - the Tawny Owl is nocturnal so it is often heard calling at night, but much less often seen. Only to be seen in the daytime if you disturb it inadvertently from its roost site in woodland up against a tree trunk or among ivy. Look for pellets below roosting places.

Life History

Lays 2 or 3 white eggs in late March or April in a nest site usually in a hollow part of a tree. Incubation takes 30 days, the chicks fledging after 35 to 39 days and are capable of breeding in their first year. Birds are mainly residents with established pairs probably never leaving their territories. Young birds disperse from breeding grounds in autumn. It hunts mainly rodents, usually by dropping from a perch to seize its prey, which it then swallows whole. In more urban areas its diet includes a higher proportion of birds. Vision and hearing adaptations and silent flight aid its night hunting, though it relies principally on hearing to locate prey.

UK Status

It is a widespread breeding species in England, Wales and Scotland but is not found in Ireland

VC55 Status

Fairly common in Leicestershire and Rutland

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map