Walking back from the trailers on site here at church farm last Tuesday night, I was greeted by the amazing (and really rather loud) ke-wick cry of a female tawny owl. Far less haunting than the strangled screech of a barn owl, we have a number of pairs who have set up home on the farm, and whilst I have had the pleasure of listening to them chat away to each other regularly, I’ve never seen one.
That night however my tawny owl experience was complete! She swooped into view, completely silent, her rounded wings fully extended as she glided across the length of the yard and over café roof into the darkness. She was every bit as beautiful and graceful as I had imagined she would be. I went home that night a very happy intern.
The tawny is our most common woodland owl, and these plump, pigeon sized predators will eat practically anything from small mammals to lizards to even mallard ducks! They are rarely seen in the daytime, although you can sometimes hear the male calling. Traditionally, the call of the tawny owl was always thought to be twit-twoo but in-fact, the females cry ke-wick and the males tend to respond with a hoo-hoo-oooo. You can easily dupe the male into the replying to you by mimicking his call using cupped hands, but I wouldn’t advise this if you are in the company of someone who is a little superstitious; the cry of the tawny owl in times gone by was very much a hated thing, seen as it was, an omen of death!