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Stories From Inside A Tawny Owl Nest

Welcome to a new year of intimate stories from inside a tawny owl nest. Already I’ve recorded the sound of a male tawny owl in love. As the breeding season progresses I plan to bring you more drama from live nest cams hidden in my owl boxes. Look forward to following this tawny family from the males’ early fights over territory, to domestic squabbles at owl dinner time right up to the moment the baby tawny owls learn to fly.

My live nest cams run 24/7 cameras, but I only select the best to share with you. Keep checking in for fascinating tawny owl updates.

February 14th 2019

Inside a Tawny Owl Nest: Checking out nest sites

Finding a place to nest


It’s Valentine’s Day and the tawny owls are already making plans to nest. They spend most days roosting in a nest box I made for them out of an old beech stump. But this week the cameras caught the female digging a scrape into the bottom a different nest box.

tawny nest cam

It feels so intimate to be able to hear the sound she makes as she scrapes out a perfect hollow in the floor of the box nestling down into it.

This box she is in is actually quite close to the beech box and made from an old ash stump. Interestingly the microphones also recorded her calling. The sound she made is a noise that is usually attributed only to males. A soft, reverberating hoot, known as an ocarina call,  it clearly is how they call one another during courtship.


February 7th 2019

Inside A Tawny Owl Nest: Bingo! A Female 

Attracting a mate


The male now has his mate and the two are already re-confirming their bond. Watch carefully to see them tenderly preen one another’s facial discs. Although this pair are known to one another they repeat the same courtship ritual each year to establish their bonds.

It is difficult to tell the difference between males and females and most people go by size (females are slightly bigger) but these two owls are an old couple and I know them from previous years. I sex them by their colouring and feather patterns. The ginger-toned owl is the female. If you look, her tail has no markings. The darker owl, with black feathers on its head is the male. Its has a white tipped tail with barring accross it.




January 31st 2019

Inside A Tawny Owl Nest: Preening 

Attracting a mate

Turn the sound on to listen to this tawny owl preen its tail feathers. You can actually hear the sound of its beak dragging through the feathers, catching at the barbs! And if that isn’t incredible enough, watch to the end to see its satisfied expression afterwards. It’s as if its saying: “Ah. That felt good!”


The cameras also captured this male preening again a few days later.  Watch as it again carefully pulls its beak through its feathers – listen to the sound this makes!  and then has a good shake. Its tail quivers so fast its like watching a turbo tawny. Keep watching to the end to see it finally fan out its tail!


January 24th 2019

Inside A Tawny Owl Nest: Love Calls

Attracting a mate

It’s very early in the year, but already the male tawny owl has begun to call for his mate. This owl is a regular here at Fotherdale and he has had the same mate for many years now, but each year he still has to attract her in the same way. Turn your sound on to hear the sound of this love call. A low oscillating, ocarina, it has quite a soothing tone. Watch how its feathers quiver as the notes shudder to a final hush. There is a hard frost outside and the male has a found shelter inside my nest box – perhaps he’s hoping for some company to keep warm as he roosts?



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