Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Owl Vigil

British public asked to listen out for owls

The British Trust for Ornithology is asking the great British public to participate in a national study of Tawny Owls and their calling behaviour, by listening out for them this autumn and winter. Tawny Owl populations are thought to be in decline and the species has recently been added to the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern.

A new study is urgently needed because Tawny Owl populations are thought to be in decline and BTO researchers wish to understand more about the impacts of urbanisation and light pollution on their populations. Anyone can participate, and members of the public are asked to listen out for calling Tawny Owls from their garden, local park or piece of woodland.

As Claire Boothby, survey Organiser at BTO, comments, "You can listen from pretty much anywhere you like for 20 minutes one evening a week. Anyone can take part and the more people that do the better picture scientists at BTO will have of our Tawny Owls - you can even do it from the comfort of your bed."

The first thing to do is to decide on a location and register online at www.bto.org/owls or email gbw@bto.org for more information. The survey runs from 30 September 2018 – 31 March 2019. You don’t have to commit to listening every week, but you’ll be providing valuable data by recording for as many weeks as you can.

The Tawny Owl is arguably our best known owl; even if you have never seen one you will probably recognise the 'twit-twoo' call uttered in harmony by a pair of Tawny Owls. The call of the female is an eerie 'kewick' and that of the male in reply is a shivering, 'whoo'. Put together and you get 'kewick-whoo' or put another way, 'twit-twoo'.

It is just as important, if you take part, to tell BTO if you don't hear an owl; they will then know where there aren't any owls and you can consider yourself a 'zero hero'.

Paul Stancliffe BTO

28th September 2018