KEY SPECIES

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

TAWNY OWL

Of all the species to be found in ur­ban Bri­tain, the Tawny Owl has the ac­co­lade of be­ing the most un­no­ticed. Need­less to say, few of us are ever that far from one, but owing to their noc­tur­nal habits, most city dwellers go through their lives bliss­fully un­aware of their ex­is­tence. Tawny Owls are found through­out Europe (al­though fa­mously not in Ire­land), North Africa, as well as into cen­tral Rus­sia. Famed for its ex­cep­tional night vi­sion, it has now been found that its sight is no bet­ter than ours. It’s the bird’s amaz­ing hear­ing that is key to its hunt­ing suc­cess. And when it comes to food, its nor­mal quarry are small ro­dents but in ur­ban ar­eas small birds are also on the menu. Tawny Owls be­long to the genus Strix, that con­tains around 15 species, in­clud­ing the fear­some Ural Owl. In com­mon with most mem­bers of the genus, the Tawny Owl is not to be messed around with, es­pe­cially around its nest site, as the late pioneer­ing pho­tog­ra­pher Eric Hosk­ing found, much to his cha­grin. He fa­mously lost an eye to the claw of an at­tack­ing owl!

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