Twenty minutes for Tawny Owls


The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is asking members of the public to listen out for Tawny Owls in order to help build a picture of what is happening to Britain's most widespread owl.

Evidence suggests that the British Tawny Owl population is falling and it might be that we are losing them from our towns and cities. Taking part in the BTO's Tawny Owl Calling Survey will help make this clearer.

Tawny Owls are very difficult to monitor due to their nocturnal habits, so they are much more often heard than seen. The BTO wants people to listen for the distinctive 'hoot' calls of the males and sharp 'kee-wick' of the females. Anyone can take part and the BTO website has a series of Tawny Owl recordings for people to familiarize themselves with the various calls.

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Tawny Owls are difficult to monitor due to their nocturnal habits, but the BTO suspects the British population is in decline (Kirk Macey).

Claire Boothby, Tawny Owl Calling Survey Organiser at the BTO, said: "Getting involved couldn't be simpler - just wrap up warm and give yourself 20 minutes to listen for the haunting calls of Tawny Owls between now and the end of March. You can listen from your garden, local wood or park, or even from the comfort of the sofa with your window open, and tell us whether or not you hear an owl. Don't worry if you don't hear one in your 20 minutes; that record is just as valuable and you'll become one of our 'Zero Heroes'!"

Although nearly 6,000 volunteers have already taken part, the BTO would like at least 10,000 people across the UK get involved and submit their data.

Please visit www.bto.org/owls for more information.