Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Birds

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

Description

The Tawny owl has a length of 36-40 cm and weighs about 325-716 g. It has a wingspan of 81–105 cm, with a rounded head, body and wings. It has large brown eyes, with its face surrounded by a ring of dark feathers. The Tawny Owls’ upper parts are usually reddish brown, with a line of dark and light patches on its wings and the crown of its head. The under parts are yellowish-beige.

Habitat

The tawny owl lives in deciduous and coniferous woodland, wooded farmland and parkland areas.The Tawny Owl is fearless in defence of its nest and young, and strike for the intruder’s head with its sharp talons, assaulting dogs, cats and humans without any provocation sometimes.The best known victim was the bird photographer Eric Hosking, who lost his left eye when attempting to photograph near its nest in 1937, and later called his autobiography ‘An Eye for a Bird’,

Diet

They feed on small mammals, birds, amphibians and bats. They will also hunt on foot to feed on earthworms.

Protection status

This species is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Interesting Facts

Like its relatives, the Tawny Owl has been depicted as an omen of bad luck.

The Tawny owl was depicted by William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar.

The Tawny Owl was also quoted by John Ruskin saying, “Whatever wise people may say of them, I at least have found the owl’s cry always prophetic of mischief to me”.

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