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Tawny Owl

About Tawny Owl

This owl is a bulky, medium sized brown owl and has a pale or rufous facial disk, pale greenish-yellow bill, and bluish-black eyes. Upperparts reddish-brown, mottled and streaked with dark brown; white patches and dark bars on wings; barred tail. Underparts buff, with darker streaks and faint bars; feathered legs.

They build nests in the spring in a shallow unlined depression in a tree hole or a rock crevice, and sometimes in an abandoned nest of another bird, sometimes on a building or a nestbox made for the purpose of nesting. They have 1-7 white eggs which are incubated by the female for 28-30 days.

This bird is nocturnal and roosts in a tree by day, coming out to hunt at dusk. It stays in the same territory throughout the year, so it knows all the best places to find its prey during the different seasons. It will find a place to perch and settle in to wait for its prey to come. It has very good eyesight and hearing, allowing it to pinpoint victims on starless nights that to humans seem completely black. It has soft-edged flight feathers so that it makes no noise as it swoops down to get its prey. This allows it to stay on target and the prey has no idea what is about to happen. The owl snatches its prey up in its talons, carries it back to the perch, and swallows it whole.

Although this owl is essentially a woodland bird, it will adapt to city life and often breed in city parks. They guard their nests fiercely and have been known to swoop down on people who unknowingly walk too close to their nests and slash at them with their talons. A tawny that is cornered will gape its hooked bill and fan its wings to make itself look bigger and more dangerous.