A miscellany of links which will get organised when there are enough to be worth organising.

Tawny Owl webcams

As a rule of thumb expect activity from mid-March to mid-May, although exceptionally females may start laying much earlier than mid-March


KauzCam, SE Germany (Kasten nestbox)

Started in 2006, located in Kempten-Oberallgäu, Schwaben, about 50 km ENE of Lake Constance. Top-mounted b/w camera in unique barrel-like box. Refresh rate 10 s. Pic size 352 x 257. Site is in German. Limited collection of archived pics from previous years. Female is called Helga. (There's a second tawny webcam at Boden, but it hasn't been online yet. This one's side-mounted and colour.)

STATUS (24 Mar 08): Active <> Inactive <> Owl <> No owl



Tawny Owl Webcam, Natural History Museum, Fribourg, Switzerland

Started in 2007. Letterbox with top-mounted colour camera, refresh rate 15-20 s, though an instant refresh can be had any time by clicking on a link below picture. Pic size 384 x 287. Site in French, German. No archives, limited information.

STATUS (24 Mar 08): Active <> Inactive <> Owl <> No owl


Species description -- The Owl Pages

Deane Lewis gives a long and very good account of the Tawny Owl on his Owl Pages website; here's the page. Detailed and accurate, though those who've been through this site will know that I can't agree with the statement that the male makes the kewick call, and imho loud kewick ("coo-wik") calls by females in most cases do not express aggression -- usually she's calling loudly in an attempt to find her mate, who she may have lost contact with. The call samples are a little indifferent, and the "chick" may even be a different species -- it's not a sound I've ever heard made by a tawny chick! Otherwise this is a useful reference account. Has world distribution map.


Found an owl feather?

If you find a feather you think may be an owl's and want to identify it, a first port of call is www.gefiederkunde.de. Gefiederkunde means plumage. It's all in German, but there are lots of pics of owl feathers, on a separate page for each European species. The Latin species name is given at the top of each page. Here's the link to the main owl page. From there click on the 17 different owl buttons at left (from Bartkauz, or Great Grey Owl, to Zwergohreule, or Common Scops Owl) to get to each owl's page. 17 species are listed rather than the 13 indigenous to Europe because three N American species and one non-owl species are included. The site appears to do similar pages for all European bird species, though you may have to work on your German.

Another very useful site is FEATHERS, by Dutchman Michel Klemann. Again, the scope of the site is all European birds, and the owls are there. The site is in english. There's the option to navigate via pop-out submenus at the side (where species are named in both latin and english) , or click on "Sitemap" at the bottom of the sidebar. That brings up a simple linked listing of all the species covered. Some excellent material here, both scanned and (it would appear) photographed.


UK Animal Rescuers -- Rescue centres in the UK

If you find a bird, these pages include perhaps the most comprehensive listing of people or organisations that'll look after and release it.


Tawny Owls released and radio-tracked by the Hawk Conservancy Trust in 2005, 2006 and 2007

The Accipiter, the online magazine of the Hawk Conservancy Trust (located near Andover, Hampshire), has reports, illustrated with pics and videos, on the rehabilitation (release) of Tawny Owls from its aviaries.

2005: In 2005 eleven tagged owls were released at the end of July in four local woods. One is known to have died in the first 10 days, the signal from two others was lost before 14 days, the tag from a fourth owl was found on about day 22, and the signal from a fifth owl disappeared on 26 August. However, the report for 2006 states that 10 of the 11 owls released in 2005 were known to have survived 6 weeks after the release, so it seems the four missing owls were relocated. There are four videos (all rather similar) of the 2005 batch being released.

2006: Another 9 (10?) owls were released with tags on 28 July 2006. Four weeks later (23 August) 2 owls were known to have died in the first week and 2 had lost their tags (on days 13 and 20). One owl was released without a tag because it did not have suitable tail feathers. By the (final) November report four had died.

2007: 13 owls released 7th August. As of the October interim report, one has been klled by a train (the second instance of this) and the tags of four owls have come off. The eight other owls are said to have done well. One has moved 3 miles from the release area, another two one mile, and the rest have hardly moved. A pattern of choosing "edge habitats" is emerging quite strongly.

The release reports are here: 2005 release; 2005 results; 2006 release; 2006 report. 2007 interim report.

This useful work suggests that rescued/rehabbed tawnies have a good chance of surviving the first few weeks after release -- i.e. they quickly learn to feed themselves. This confirms the findings of Bennett and Routh (2000), below. However, follow-up is rather limited (max 3 months) and many birds lose their tags! See next entry for continuation of the release project in 2007.


2007 release programmes -- RSPCA West Hatch and Hawk Conservancy Trust

RSPCA: "This summer, like last year, we will be tracking juvenile Tawny Owls after their release. We plan to radio-track 12 birds and The Hawk conservancy Trust (based near Andover) will be tracking 12. We hope to determine survival of the birds after release to confirm that a rehabilitated juvenile Tawny Owl has a chance of survival similar to that of a wild raised juvenile Tawny Owl. Already we have had 7 Tawny Owlets admitted so it looks like 2007 has been a much better breeding year for Tawny Owls than 2006. The birds will be released in August to join other young owlets looking for new territories at this time of year." (Source: News archive Mar-Apr 2007)

Hawk Conservancy Trust: "We have received 18 baby Tawny Owl chicks so far this year, against just 11 in total last year. ... The Owls will be released later in the summer as part of the project which was started in 2005." On this Accipiter page. See entry above ("20 Tawny Owls released . ." ) for details of the project and results.


Three more successful releases reported (December 2007)

Chris Sperring, a well-known raptor person, reports on the release of three tawny owlets found earlier this year carried out in the course of his work for the Hawk and Owl Trust. It seems the owls were released in September, and this is the report as of December (from this page on www.chrissperring.com):

"all three of the 2007 owlets were very successful and monitoring was stop[ped] some 6 weeks after the release with their positions known. 1 owlet has established itself between open grassland and 2 small copses approximately 1 mile from the release site, the other 2 are much further yet both have appear to have teamed up with partners already . ."

So, another demonstration that tawny orphans can be released successfully. Chris is appealing for funds to purchase radio telemetry equipment to help with tracking.


An early RSPCA report on Tawny Owl releases (Bennett and Routh, 2000)

Abstract only, 3/4 way down page. The main conclusion here is that "Hand-rearing did not appear to affect the birds' instinctive behaviour or post-release survival ... hand-reared tawny owls do not appear to be at a disadvantage when compared with wild juveniles...". The article, by J.A. Bennett and A.D. Routh, is "Post-release survival of hand-reared tawny owls Strix aluco", published in Animal Welfare, 9, 317-21. Unfortunately not available on the internet.


A good research paper on survival after fledging (Coles and Petty, 1997)

PDF direct download. "Dispersal behaviour and survival of juvenile Tawny Owls (Strix aluco) during the low point in a vole cycle" by C.F. Coles and S.J. Petty, Proceedings of Second Owl Symposium, pp. 111-18 (for more details of this symposium see below). An informative (and rather depressing!) study of the dispersal and survival of 22 wild-born fledglings in the Kielder Forest, northern England. All the owls were fitted with radio tags. Mortality here was very high, with none of the owls known to have survived 6 months after fledging (ca 10 December median). Of the 13 owls actually found dead, 6 died of starvation, 3 were taken by goshawks, 1 was found dying with an eye injury (presumably resulting from a collision), 1 was found choked on a vole, and 2 were found partially dismembered with the immediate cause of death unknown. Starvation was the main cause of death in the first 3 months, with a peak 20-40 days after fledging. The other 9 owls are listed as "missing". Of these, 5 were lost track of between 8 and 51 days after fledging but before dispersal and so must be presumed to have died. That leaves just four "missing" owls that may (or equally may not) have survived beyond the six-month study period. All four had moved outside their natal areas although one was last picked up by telemetry only 120 metres from its birthplace.

The authors attribute the very poor survival rate to the fact that 1996 (the study year) coincided with a low in the vole cycle. Of interest to me is that these owlets, most of whom were born in nestboxes, fledged at 29-36 days, with a mean of 32 days. There is no evidence here for the commonly made claim that it is normal for tawny chicks to leave the nest before they can fly.


Proceedings of the Second International Owl Symposium, "Biology and Conservation of Owls of the Northern Hemisphere", held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, February 5-9, 1997

The entire conference proceedings are available as pdfs from this page of the North Central Research Station of the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. There's a wealth of material, with 65 papers, 17 poster presentations and reports on four workshops. That's over 630 pages in all! There's a bias to North American owls. There is another paper on Tawny Owls (by Petty and Fawkes), but its main focus is whether tawny brood size can be used to estimate vole densities.


Owl names in European languages other than English

Talking of Waldkauz, it can be useful when searching the internet to know the names of Europe's 13 species of indigenous owls in other languages. Dr Monika Kirk has provided some of them on an owl names page on her website, Eulenwelt (World of Owls). The languages are German, Latin, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. It would be nice to see Danish, Polish and Finnish added as there are very active birding communities in those countries. Eulenwelt is a site about Dr Kirk's huge collection of owl artefacts.

The Raptor Foundation has a more extensive list that includes Russian and some Asian languages here. The Wiktionary has an even more extensive list here.

Here are some European names for the tawny: French: Chouette hulotte; German: Waldkauz; Danish: Natugle; Dutch: Bosuil; Italian: Allocco; Spanish: Cárabo (común); Portuguese: Coruja-do-mato; Finnish: Lehtopöllö; Norwegian: Kattugle; Swedish: Kattuggla; Estonian: Kodukakk; Polish: Puszczyk; Czech: Pustik (with special characters, but this works); Romanian: Huhurez; Hungarian: Macskabagoly; Croatian and Serbian: Sumska sova; Slovak: Sova lesna; Slovenian: Lesna sova. Names in some other languages are too hard to transliterate!


Europe-wide map of Tawny Owl distribution and numbers from Bird Life International

Bird Life International, a global partnership of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with a special focus on conservation and birds, has an excellent clear map (in pdf format) with up-to-date estimates of Tawny Owl numbers. The map is based on counts conducted between 1990 and 2003. 42 countries are represented, including the former East European countries, Ukraine and Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan (not the Iranian one), Armenia and Georgia, and even Gibraltar, which is said to have from zero to two owls -- presumably a breeding pair that hops across from Spain! It's interesting to see the arc of high concentration densities that stretches from Spain, through France and Germany to Romania and, to some extent, Ukraine -- an arc that could be seen as the tawny heartland. Interesting too to see that we (the UK) are at the western limit of the range, with numbers on a par with smaller countries like Portugal or Latvia. Unfortunately the accompanying table makes confusing use of parentheses, apparently to indicate breeding pairs, whereas the numbers for other countries may be absolute numbers. As it's not clear what "breeding pairs" represent the numbers have to be interpreted with caution. The overall numbers are estimated to be between 500,000 and 1,000,000 breeding pairs spread over 6,000,000 km2. This is 50-74% of the global population contained in something over half of the species' range.

Download the pdf map here; the species search page is here; and this is the Bird Life International home page.


Tawny Owl links page 2

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An excellent place for keeping up with nest cams, including Tawny Owl cams, is Vicky Dziadosz's page View Nesting Birds. Bird feeder webcams are listed on this page. How Vicky spots everything and keeps it all up to date I don't know, but she does!