Unraveling the Enigma of Britain’s Tawny Owls: Heard but Rarely Seen

Tawny Owls

In the world of avian wonders, tawny owls stand as a captivating enigma, the most common owl species in Britain. These majestic creatures are often celebrated, yet sightings of them are as rare as the winter sun. The reason behind this paradox lies in their nocturnal lifestyle, shrouding them in mystery, and veiling them in darkness.

While we may not be privileged with frequent visuals of tawny owls, their voices reach our ears, carrying a signature melody. The famous “tu-whit, to-whoo” call, often associated with these birds, is not a solo performance. It’s a captivating duet between the male and the female. The male contributes the iconic hoot, while the female responds with a resounding and penetrating “kee-wick.”

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As the season changes and winter approaches, my garden in Somerset reverberates with the haunting symphony of these owls. Here, a resident pair attempts to reclaim their territory by coaxing their offspring to leave the nest. Their determination is such that I’ve even heard the male hooting in broad daylight, an unusual occurrence in their nocturnal world.

Once, in the broad daylight, I had the incredible fortune of coming face to face with a tawny owl in my garden. As it gracefully soared on wide wings, it almost seemed as imposing as a buzzard. However, it was merely an optical illusion; tawny owls are actually quite petite in size.

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On another occasion, I was treated to the heartwarming sight of a brood of fluffy tawny owl youngsters, freshly emerged from their nest, perched on a tall ash tree’s branches at the garden’s edge.

Yet, for the most part, my encounters with these mystical creatures are limited to the soothing sound of their evocative and unmistakable hooting. Their calls bring a touch of magic to our autumn and winter nights, reminding us of the hidden wonders in the darkness.

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