The Tawny Owl is the UK’s largest breeding owl. It is an owl the size of a pigeon and 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. It is found throughout Britain (with the exception of Ireland), most of Europe & Russia (though not the more northerly regions) through to Asia & China & some of the north of Africa.
The Tawny Owl is nocturnal, roosting during the daytime in trees. It mainly preys on small rodents & roosting birds. Small invertebrates, including worms, will get eaten too. It is believed that they will also take fish out of garden ponds, when there is a scarcity of other food. Although normally silent in flight, Tawny Owls have been observed flying low over hedgerows beating their wings to disturb & flush out their prey, particularly roosting songbirds.
Tawny Owls live mainly in wooded areas, using holes in trees as nests, rather than building their own. Sometimes they will use old squirrel drays. They have also been known to use old nests or nest on the ground, if no other suitable nest sites are available. They will also nest in suburban gardens. They can be aggressive & have been known to attack humans in defence of their nests.
A pair of Tawny Owls will produce only one brood per year, laying between 2 – 5 egg starting around the beginning to middle of March, with up to a week between each egg. Incubation starts with the first egg, which means that the eggs hatch at different times (incubation period is around 28-30 days). Once hatched, both parents are involved in feeding, until the young are forced to leave at about 2-3 months old. The young are capable of flying from around 5 weeks after hatching.