Tawny Owl (Strix Aluco) – Filming the Elusive Bird of Prey

Tawny Owl (Strix Aluco) - Filming the Elusive Bird of Prey

Tawny Owl (Strix Aluco) - Filming the Elusive Bird of Prey

The woods where I live is also home to a majestic Tawny Owl. She’s incredibly elusive and absolutely soundless in flight and parchment, so taking any sight of her takes a lot of patience and paying attention.

That’s not an easy task given that the terrain in my woods is uneven, very hilly and mostly dangerously steep. Such terrain absolutely demands that you pay attention to where you step and what you step on at all times. A bird of prey like this Tawny Owl could hover over your head at any time and you’d have no idea unless you regularly pause and look up.

Still, I have managed to capture her on video a few times, and compiled the footage into the video below. It consists of several videos filmed on different days in different locations. Whereas Tawny Owls are highly territorial, and she calls my territory home, getting her on camera simply requires also paying attention to what’s overhead.

I hope soon enough she gets used to me much like the woodpecker who dwells by the Injured Badger Hole, or the deer trio that now lets me hang nearby without darting off, and accepts me as part of the forest. Once that happens, I should be able to get closer to her for a better, clearer and less shaky footage.

About Tawny Owls

The hard to spot Tawny Owls have a large round head and a circular face with brownish eyes. Legs are short and feathered to fingers, wings are relatively short (span 81 to 96 cm), wide and rounded, tail is also short and rounded. Coloring is very variable, the base color ranges from gray over different shades of brown to rusty, with dark annealing. Female Tawny Owls are slightly bigger than males.

As raptors (birds of prey) Tawny Owls are nocturnal hunters. Their smooth-sailing and incredibly silent flight allows them to descend on the prey unnoticed.

They feed on smaller vertebrates (mammals, birds, amphibians) and insects. Small hares and mice are grabbed into their sharp, curved claws, but they can also catch birds up to the size of a European Jay, which makes me worried about my resident woodpecker, who’s the first animal to accept as part of the forest.

Tawny Owls don’t migrate. Whatever territory they call their home tends to be their permanent. And they defend it feverishly against invading owls. Consequently, when they give birth, the young owls are eventually forced to leave their nests and look for a territory of their own. Inexperienced, if they don’t succeed in finding a territory that’s not yet occupied (ie feverishly defended by other, older owls), they often starve to death. Mortality of the younglings tends to be quite high.

The nest is most commonly built in tree cavities, rarely in nests of other raptors, exceptionally in buildings or on the ground. Selection of nesting places start roughly in February. Female lays 1 to 6 eggs (usually 2 to 5) in the first half of March. Eggs are white with fine brown spots.

The female remains mostly in the nest, leaving only sporadically (mainly to get rid of vomit and feces). The male brings her food.

After hatching, the female feeds the chicks and swallows impurities they produce. During the first 10 days she almost never leaves the nest. Later on she sporadically leaves to hunt at night. However, the nest is never left without supervision by one of the parents for too long.

Like other members of the owl family, Tawny Owls are notorious for aggressiveness with which they defend their young.

Females sitting on eggs attack anything that comes uncomfortably close to the nest. Without hesitation, she’ll go with everything she got against large predators, even humans, if they approached the nest. Typically, she directs her attacks on the head of the intruder. This way she can force into retreat much larger and stronger animals than herself.

YouTube video:

Odysee video:

3Speak video:

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