Track A Tawny Owl
It’s late Autumn. The weather is either wet and windy, or cold and crisp. The clocks have changed and it gets dark early. Time to retreat indoors you might think…. Oh no no! This is the time to head out on an owl investigation to hear the magical Tawny Owl….
The call of the Tawny Owl
The call of the Tawny owl is absolutely incredible. One of the most fantastic sounds in nature. If you’re ever out in the dark in late Autumn, maybe just getting home from work/after-school clubs, walking to the pub, or just opening a window, you may well have heard this loud, eery call and wondered ‘WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT!?’
Well, chances are it was a tawny. In autumn the male and female Tawny owls mark their winter territory, and they do this by calling LOUDLY to each other. They’re known for their ‘twit-twoo’ call but I’ve never quite understood that. To my ears, the males give a beautiful, deep Hoo – Hoo – Hoooo and the females respond with an intense, sharp KER-WICK! You’ll often hear the young ones having a go too, sounding a little like a teenager with a breaking voice. Bless them.
Listen to the different calls of the Tawny Owl on the British Trust for Ornithology website here
When & where will we find a Tawny Owl?
Owl investigations are a perfect family outdoor activity for an autumn weekday. You needn’t be out late because the evenings get dark so much earlier. By late October/early November we often hear the owls from about 5.30pm. You also don’t need to travel far. Venture into your garden, local park or woodland and you’re sure to hear them. They’re so loud and magical that even easily-distracted children will concentrate. It’s a truly fantastic experience. These aren’t just countryside birds either. If you have enough trees around you, you’re likely to hear them in the city too.
Head out before dark to see if you can find some owl pellets. Pellets are the undigested parts of a bird’s food, such as hair or bones, which are regurgitated (coughed up through the beak). Tawny Owls eat small mammals, frogs, worms and even small birds so you can often find fur and bones in their pellets.
You can dissect pellets to see what the owls have been eating! Make sure you wear gloves though or just use sticks to pull the pellets apart.
- No preparation needed. Just head out into the dark!
- Wrap up warm or bring waterproofs if raining
- A thermos of hot chocolate always goes down a treat on night time expeditions
Fancy taking up the after school mini-adventure challenge and spending more family time outdoors? Check out our mini-adventure collection here