NIGHT LIS­TEN­ING

Bird Watching (UK) - - November Id Challenge -

There are some bird­watch­ers who don’t give a hoot about bird sounds. How­ever, when night-time comes around and all you can see is poorly de­fined shapes, sil­hou­ettes or the anoma­lous hand in front of your face, how are you go­ing to iden­tify birds? There are only five reg­u­lar Bri­tish owls, so there is no ex­cuse for not learn­ing some of their most com­mon calls. Only Tawny Owls do the long wa­ver­ing hoots. They also have a ‘kee­vick ’ call. Lit­tle Owls have a se­ries of al­most Tawny-like yelps. Long-eared Owls have soft short hoots, deep in the male and rather more like a Col­lared Dove flight-call in the fe­male. Short-eared Owls also have re­peated clipped hoots, as well as rather Lap­wing-like con­tact calls. Both eared species also per­form wing-claps as part of their dis­plays. Fi­nally, Barn Owls have dis­turb­ing, wor­ry­ing, pro­longed witch-like screeches which give them their old ‘screech owl’ name.

An owl in a wood at night. Shape and habi­tat give some in­di­ca­tion that this is a Tawny Owl. Sound is the best, most re­li­able ev­i­dence

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