06/11/2009
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Where’s Brown Owl?

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This is the question that the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the BBC Autumnwatch team are hoping to answer, by appealing to members of the public to listen out for Tawny Owls and report them to the Trust.

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl, Kensington Gardens, Greater London (Photo: Fraser Simpson)

The BTO is in the middle of the biggest stock-take of Britain's birds ever to be carried out, Bird Atlas 2007–11. This ambitious project aims to count all of Britain's birds, both during the summer and winter months. A lot of data have already been collected but there are some gaps to be filled — especially at night. One of these gaps is for information on the Tawny Owl, as the Brown Owl is more commonly known.

Dawn Balmer, Atlas Organiser at the BTO, said, "For a bird that lives so close to us, it is surprisingly difficult to find out just where Tawny Owls are and how many of them there are. By appealing directly to people to go out and listen for them, and, more importantly report them to us, we will go a long way to finding this out."

Tawny Owls are a bird of woodland, parks and gardens and are very nocturnal in their habits, which makes it difficult to assess their true status. However, during these early winter months Tawny Owls are at their most vocal, as they reaffirm the bond with their breeding partner, reassert their authority on their breeding territory and ward off any interloping owls. This makes now the ideal time to get out and listen for them.

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The BTO and BBC Autumnwatch have teamed up to appeal to members of the public to do just that. By reporting any owls heard — calls can be listened to at www.bto.org — they will be helping to complete the picture in a very important piece of scientific research. To report your Tawny Owls, visit the BTO website. Please note that this is only an online survey.

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl, Pocklington, East Yorkshire (Photo: Dick Roberts)

So go on, get out on any still and calm autumn evening and help make a difference to our understanding of one of our closest but most secretive of neighbours.

BTO
Bird Atlas 2007–11 is a partnership between the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Scottish Ornithologists' Club (SOC) and BirdWatch Ireland.

To check out coverage in your local area, click here.

For further information visit www.birdatlas.net or contact the Atlas Coordinator at BTO (Tel: 01842 750050) or email birdatlas@bto.org

Written by: BTO

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