Tawny Owl

Strix aluco


Tawny owls are our largest common owl; the familiar 'brown owl' of Britain's woodlands they are also found in parks and gardens. Tawny owls make the familiar 'too-wit too-woo' call during the night and early hours but this is actually a male and female owl calling to each other - the female makes the 'too-wit' sound and the male answers with 'too-woo'. They feed on small animals like voles and mice, looking out for them from a favourite perch. Nesting usually takes place in spring in hollow trees or an old crow's nest.

How to identify

Unmistakeable: tawny owls are mottled grey- or reddish-brown with a big, round head, large, dark eyes and rounded wings.

Where to find it

Widespread but absent from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Although the tawny owl is not declining their woodland habitats are disappearing and the intensification of agriculture has reduced the availability of their small mammal prey. The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers and landowners to promote wildlife-friendly practices. We are working towards a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Tawny Owl
Latin name
Strix aluco
Birds of prey
Length: 37-39cm Wingspan: 99cm Weight: 420-520g Average Lifespan: 4 years
Conservation status