Tawny owl (Strix aluco)
It is a medium sized nocturnal raptor that can reach a length of 40 cm, a wingspread of 90 cm and over 600 gr weight. Chubby shaped, with a large head, it has no tufts. The plumage is very cryptic with different colorations between individuals which has nothing to do with sex or age and do not change over time (although they are called “color phases”). We can find examples from grey to reddish, through a wide range of intermediate browns.
It has short and wide wings, as befits a species closely linked to forests. The bill is yellow and it has black eyes, with the edge of the eyelid pink. The tarsus and toes are feathered and nails are black.
There is a strong sexual dimorphism in size, resulting larger females than males.
Perched, its plump and rounded shape eliminates the possibility of mix-up with other species. In flight, its relatively short and broad wings can help differentiate it from other species of similar size.
Fundamentally forest species. Typically chooses the old, lush forests, although it is also common in coniferous forests, river groves and oak. Close to human also inhabit urban gardens and parks.
Status and distribution
In the Iberian Peninsula is distributed uniformly the subspecies Strix aluco sylvatica. It is lack in islands. This owl is a non-migratory species that remains in its territory throughout the year.
It is one of the most nocturnal owls. They are usually monogamous and keep the same partner year after year.
The method of hunting is waiting perched, but they also hunt in flight especially along firewall, roads, etc.
It has a varied diet that may include mammals size of a rabbit, insects, birds, frogs … sometimes observed seasonal variations. It is very generalist in its food, having one prey or another depending on their abundance or accessibility.
It uses as nest natural holes in trees, accepting fine nest boxes. Sometimes it can be found in cavities of human structures. Do not add any material to the nest.
The breeding season begins in mid-March. It lays around 3-4 eggs, with intervals of 48 hours, almost round and completely white. They are incubated for 30 days from the first egg by the female, while the male brings food. The chicks leave the nest after 30 days, but depend on their parents for food until three months later.
(National Catalogue of Threatened Species.)