Members of the genus Strix are the wood owls. They are medium to large owls, having a large, rounded head and no ear-tufts. The comparatively large eyes range from yellow through to dark brown. Colouring is generally designed fro camouflage in woodland, and a number of the member of this genus have colour phases. There are 20 species scattered practically throughout the globe with the exception of Australasia, the South Pacific and Madagascar, where the genus Ninox takes its place. There being no clear generic differences between Strix and Ciccaba genera, and DNA evidence suggesting very close relationships, many authorities now merge the latter into the former.
Plumage polymorphic, with intermediates. Nominate race mostly grey-brown, facial disc generally pale with some darker concentric rings, crown with dark center bordered by pale bands.
Upperparts heavily mottled brown with darker shaft streaks outer webs of outer scapulars and upperwing coverts with large white or cream spot at tip. Underparts striaked dark and with variable thin cross-bars. Iris blackish-brown. Bill horn-clored to pale yellowish. Toes grey.
Listen to the sound of Tawny Owl
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
|wingspan min.:||81||cm||wingspan max.:||96||cm|
|size min.:||37||cm||size max.:||43||cm|
|incubation min.:||28||days||incubation max.:||30||days|
|fledging min.:||32||days||fledging max.:||30||days|
Avoids large unbroken forest tracts, wetlands and treeless plains, frosty or arid climates.
Occurs from fringe of boreal zone through temperate regions and steppe to Mediterranean and related mountain zones. For hunting, requires richly structured habitat with plenty of lookout posts, including sparse woodland, clearings, and gardens among mature trees.
The first territorial fights occur as early as October and November, the male determining the territory, the female the nesting hole. The transition from autumn to winter is marked by a final establishment of territories and pre-breeding behaviour. The female and male tend more and more to roost together. Courtship feeding begins in the winter period (December to February), becoming progressively centred on the future nest site. In Europe the Tawny Owl usually begins breeding in mid-March.
During courtship the male perches near the female and sways from side to side, then up and down, raising first one wing then the other and finally both together. His plumage is puffed out, making him appear almost round, then tightly compressed. Meanwhile he grunts softly, sometimes sidling a foot or so along the branch and back again. He may indulge in wing-clapping and when pursuing the female will utter screeches, mewings, groans and rattles. The female may puff out and quiver her feathers.
Tawny Owls will nest in a natural hole or a nest box in a tree, but occasionally nests have been found on ledges of old buildings and in chimneys. They will also use the old nest of a crow, Magpie, Sparrowhawk or Buzzard, and sometimes a squirrel’s drey. They will also use a Raven or Buzzard nest on a cliff or simply a bare ledge. According to Donald Watson, ground nests are quite common in Galloway, in south-west Scotland.
Tawny Owls lay from two to six eggs, but sometimes only one. The eggs are almost round and pure white. Normally, they are laid at intervals of 48 hours, and are incubated for 28-29 days by the female alone. When the young have hatched, the male brings more food, either to the nest or to the female waiting nearby. Once the chicks are 6-7 days old the female may leave the nest only to hunt, otherwise remaining near the young. Fledging occurs after 28 to 37 days. Tawny Owls are dependent on their parents for food up to three months after leaving the nest. As the young owls gradually learn to fend for themselves they also establish territories.
Territory size depends on terrain and prey availability. Territories may range from 12 ha (30 acres) in closed woodland, through 65-75 ha (162.5-187.5 acres) when living in beechwood with little lesser vegetation, to 102 ha (255 acres) in Norway, where the prey density is far less than in England or Belgium. The Tawny Owl defends its territory vigorously against neighbours with ‘song’, with threatening behaviour or in flying skirmishes. Predatory mammals, too, such as cats, foxes and dogs, are driven from the vicinity of the nest.
Video Tawny Owl
copyright: Paul C. King
Strix aluco is a widespread resident across much of Europe, which constitutes >50% of its global range. Its European breeding population is large (>480,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in countries such as Croatia and Sweden during 1990-2000, key populations in France, Germany, Poland and Romania were stable, and the species remained stable overall. Up until the early part of this century, The Tawny Owl suffered the same kind of persecution as other raptors – many thousands were shot, trapped and displayed on gamekeepers’ gibbets. This has improved steadily, with the decline of keepering, and changes in land use generally.
types of central Italy
types of central Italy