Buzz – Tawny Owl
Hatched: Spring 2013
Buzz was hatched in the spring of 2013 at the World Bird Sanctuary propagation department. Tawny Owls are not native to the U.S., but are important members of our education department. They help to educate thousands of people each year about the plight of raptors around the world and the threats to their existence. At a very tender age Buzz was given into the care of our Office of Wildlife Learning education department and hand raised and fostered by staff members who carefully exposed him to a variety of situations that he might encounter in his travels as an education bird.
In October 2013 he demonstrated his ability to remain calm in unfamiliar situations when he was featured as a photo op bird for WBS’s Open House event. For this photo op he was required to remain calm as he was transferred back and forth from a staff member handler to various guests who wore a falconer’s glove rested on a perch. While he was performing these transfers hundreds of visitors were passing back and forth on the paths in front of and behind him. Buzz took all of this in stride and performed like a rock star.
Species: Tawny Owl
Latin Name: Strix aluco
Description: plumage is chestnut brown, heavily mottled with grey, brown and black streaks; face is round with deep set black eyes; plumage pattern gives this bird a blocky, thick-set look; like the American Barred Owl to which it is related, it lacks ear tufts
Sex: male and female similar in appearance; females slightly larger than males
Wingspan: 36″ – 42″
Weight: 14-20 oz.
Habitat: Mostly woodlands, parks, and recently urban areas
Status: most common and widespread owl in Europe
Range: with the exception of Ireland, distributed across Europe from Britain to Scandinavia,; into North Africa; North and West Asia
Behavior: territorial owls that use the same range throughout their lives; almost exclusively nocturnal, it hunts by swooping down on is prey from a perch, from which it may locate its prey with its keen hearing; males and females bond for life; the female lays 2-4 eggs in March or early April, in a hole in a tree or an abandoned nest; the female incubates the young while the male hunts and feeds the brood for about 21 days; then both parents feed the chicks; the young owlets leave the nest at 32-37 days and scramble around on nearby branches (at this point they are known as “branchers”; by 2 months old they are flying and beginning to hunt for themselves; by 3 months they are independent and begin to disperse.
Diet: small mammals and rodents, small birds, frogs, fish, insects and worms
Vocalization: the normal call is a duet: the female calls “To-whit”, to which the male replies “To-woo”; another call heard primarily in the fall is a loud “kee-wick”
Other Information: This owl is so popular in Great Britain that it makes an appearance in many pieces of English literature, including “Winnie the Pooh” and the “Harry Potter” books