Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl

Key facts

Scientific name: Strix aluco
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 50,000 pairs

Conservation status: Green
Length: 37 – 43 cm
Wingspan: 95 – 104 cm
Weight: 440 – 580 g


Tawny owls are medium sized owls with a stocky body and large round head. Both sexes look similar although the female is slightly larger. Their plumage ranges from reddish-brown to grey-brown with mottled brown upperparts. Their faces are paler with darker concentric rings and they have pale yellow bills and grey toes.

Juvenile tawny owls are paler with shaggy, loose plumage


Tawny owls will nest in a natural hole in a tree or in the old nests of crows, magpies, or other birds of prey.

They lay 2-6 pure white, smooth glossy eggs which are incubated for 28-30 days by the female alone. Fledging occurs at 28-35 days but the chicks are dependent on their parents for food for up to 3 months before they leave the nest.


Tawny owls hunt for small mammals, such as shrews, rodents, young rabbits and small birds as well as fish, insects and amphibians and reptiles.

They are mainly nocturnal although will occasionally hunt during the day.

Tawny Owl

Where to see them

Tawny owls can be seen all year round across England, Wales and Scotland. They are not found in Ireland or some of the Scottish islands as they do not like flying over water.


Ilkka Heiskanen/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Pioneering wildlife photographer Eric Hosking lost an eye to a tawny owl and his subsequent biography was called, rather fittingly, An Eye For A Bird.

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