Best 10 Tawny Owl Facts, Appearance, Characteristics

Tawny Owl

Tawny owl (Strix aluco) is medium sized owl found in Eurasia. They are territorial and sedentary species of UK. There are seven subspecies of this bird. They belong to Strigidae family.

Tawny owl’s upper part of body is brown and lower parts are pale with dark spots. The breeding season of this bird starts in spring. They form their nests in tree holes. They mostly feed on small mammals including Bank Voles and Wood Mice. In urban areas they eat mostly birds.

It is believed that these birds have exceptional night vision. They have also great hearing and flight adaptations. They are well known for their imitated calls.

They have average size of about 38 centimeters to 43 centimeters or 15 inches to 17 inches, average weight of about 350 grams to 650 grams, wingspan of about 81 centimeters to 105 centimeters or 32 inches to 41 inches, top speed of about 50 miles per hour.

Their conservation status is nearly threatened because of many predators like eagles, hawks and buzzards. They can live up to 6 years.

Tawny Owl Adaptations: 

Some of the adaptations of tawny owl are,

  1. Tawny owls are widespread and nocturnal.
  2. Both the male and female are adapted to make the well-known kewick call.
  3. Males usually hoot during mid-day.
  4. These birds often become aggressive because they are extremely protective about their young ones. They usually wear crash helmets to protect themselves and their young ones.
  5. They are adapted for hunting in woodland. They have short wings which make movement easy for them.
  6. They have completely silent wings like all owls.
  7. These birds have large sized eyes with more amounts of light sensitive rod cells as compared to humans. This helps them to have clear vision during night.
  8. They have asymmetrical ears that help them to have excellent hearing abilities. They can easily locate prey and predators.
  9. They have large talons for catching prey.
  10. They exhibit strong beaks for tearing flesh. Their stomach is adapted to regurgitate indigestible parts of the food.
  11. They adapt to their surroundings with the help of the colour and texture of their feathers.
  12. These birds drive their young ones out of the territories after breeding season.
  13. They prefer tree holes as nesting sites but can also adapt nest boxes.

Tawny Owl Ancestors: 

There are two types of owls. These are Barn owls and Typical owls. Tawny owls are Barn owls. The oldest known owl fossil “Miocene fossil” was recorded 38 to 54 million years ago. It is believed that 2 families of owls were evolved from those fossils.

Light gray tawny owls have evolved to brown owls in Finland. This mutation started rising. There was a difficult period for gray ones to live in winter snow. That’s why tawny owls have undergone mutation and changed their colour from gray to brown in order to survive. Thus climate change is the major reason behind mutations and adaptations.

There are so many other mutations of tawny owl because owls keep changing with time.

Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl Attack: 

Tawny owls can become dangerous. Those who enter their territories or come near their nests or young ones can be threatened by tawny owls because they are aggressively protective about their young ones.

Females are usually more aggressive. There are many reports showing people’s faces and eyes getting attacked by tawny owls with their sharp talons.

Tawny Owl Appearance: 

Tawny owls are known as robust owls. They are sturdier as compared to other species of owl. They have round bodies and heads. They have dark coloured feathers around their eyes. They exhibit different coolers ranging from grey and brown to red. The underparts of body are pale with dark spots. Female tawny owls are longer and heavier than males.

Tawny Owl Age: 

The average lifespan of tawny owl is 4 to 6 years. The oldest known tawny bird was of 27 years in captivity and in wild the oldest known tawny bird was of 18 years. The factors that shorten their lifespan are predation and the constant removal of young ones from their parents’ nests.

Tawny Owl As A Pet: 

Mostly it is illegal to keep owls as pets. There are many reasons behind this. Some of them are,

  1. As owls like routine, they can’t be happy with even a minor disruption. So, it’s very difficult for the owner to go for a vacation or business trip.
  2. Tawny owls are aggressive. They can be very destructive. Because of the killing instinct, they can tear pillows, blankets etc.
  3. Owls hoot and make calls during night in breeding season. Human interruption can disturb them.
  4. They mostly don’t like to be cuddled and petted.
  5. High maintenance like daily feeding, cleaning and proper attention is required.
  6. Keeping tawny owl as a pet is a long time commitment because they can live for many years.

Tawny Owl Baby: 

Mostly tawny owls mate for life but some are also polygamous. They become sexually mature at the age of about 1 year. Breeding season occurs in spring.

They form their nests in tree holes. Female lays 3 to 6 eggs. The incubation period is about 1 month. Male performs the task of providing food to mother and baby. When the young one becomes 2 years old, it becomes independent.

Tawny Owl Beak: 

Tawny owls have strong, sharp, curved and downward facing beak that is hooked at the end.  These birds use their beaks for crushing their prey.

Tawny Owl Call: 

Tawny owls are highly vocal. The most commonly used call is “kewick” which is used to show aggression. They exhibit mournful songs. Females usually exhibit harsh version of songs.

“Xylophone trill” is the call used in mating.

Tawny Owl Characteristics: 

Some of the characteristics of tawny owl are,

  1. Tawny owl is a strong, medium sized owl found throughout Europe.
  2. They have distinctive large and rounded head.
  3. They don’t exhibit ear tufts instead they have facial disc.
  4. The upper parts of body are brown or grey and lower parts are pale with dark spots.
  5. They have heavy legs and feet.
  6. They have sharp talons and beak.

Tawny Owl Diet: 

Their primary diet includes small rodents including voles and mice. They can also eat fish, frogs and beetles. They swallow the prey as a whole and perform regurgitation for indigestible parts.

As they are nocturnal so they possess excellent vision and hearing abilities. This helps them to locate their prey easily. They exhibit silent flight which makes it easy for them to come down to their prey without making any sound.

They can also eat less aggressive woodland owls.

Tawny Owl Eggs Color:

Female tawny owl lays almost 3 to 6 eggs. These eggs are white in colour. The egg is about 1.54 inches in size and 39 grams in weight.

Tawny Owl Eye Color: 

Tawny owls have back coloured eyes. This indicates that they are nocturnal. It is believed that the colour of eyes of owl reflects their time of hunting.

Tawny Owl Facts: 

Some of the facts about tawny owl are,

  1. Tawny owls are found in woodlands across Europe.
  2. The most distinctive features of tawny owls are their large eyes and excellent hearing.
  3. They live in dense forests and open woodlands.
  4. They are omnivores.
  5. Their predators include hawks, eagles and buzzards.
  6. They have solitary lifestlye.
  7. They are also known as brown owls.
  8. They exhibit the famous kewick call.
  9. The superstition regarding this owl is that when they hoot, it’s considered as the sign of death.
  10. Some old names of tawny owl include Hill hooter and Screech owl.
  11. The oldest tawny owl was of 18 years in wild and 27 years in captivity.

Tawny Owl Feather Meaning: 

Tawny owl’s feather means wisdom. It means to see things at deeper levels even in darkness, to silently and swiftly observing the things. It symbolizes spiritual growth and healing.

Tawny Owl Habitat: 

Tawny owls are widespread extending from United Kingdom to Western Siberia. These birds are often confused with tawny frogmouths. They both live in different continents. Tawny birds don’t exhibit migration. These birds inhabit dense forests and woodlands. They are mostly seen near water. In colder climates, they prefer lowlands.

How Big Is A Tawny Owl? 

Tawny owl is a strong and robust bird. They have average size of about 38 centimeters to 43 centimeters or 15 inches to 17 inches. They have weight of about 350 grams to 650 grams.

How Far Can A Tawny Owl See? 

Tawny owls are far sighted. They can see their prey from a great distance. Their vision is stronger than humans and they can see more clearly at night. They can see large sized preys like rabbits from a mile away and smaller preys like mice from half a mile away.

Tawny Owl

How To Attract A Tawny Owl?

It is important to build a proper nest box to attract tawny owls. Some tips are as follows,

  1. You should build your nest box in large gardens because tawny owls prefer woodlands.
  2. You should choose a site close to the bird’s natural hunting ground for the nest box.
  3. You should place the nest box away from wind and harsh sun.
  4. The nest box’s size should be 35 centimeters.

Are Tawny Owls Common? 

Tawny owls are common throughout in Europe. The estimated population in Europe is 970,000 to 2,000,000 individuals. They are most common in UK. The estimated population in UK is 50,000.


Tawny owls are the most common owl species in Europe. They are highly territorial and have great vision and hearing capabilities. They are known as the most widespread owls in UK.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Zoological world

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: