Peabody – Tawny Owl
Peabody was an unexpected bonus. His egg was laid by a pair of Tawny Owls who had previously not had much success in hatching and rearing chicks. By the time Peabody’s egg was laid they were considered to be senior citizens–so Peabody was a surprise. These two “senior” birds have subsequently laid and raised two more chicks. It apparently just took them a while to get the hang of it.
2012 was Peabody’s first flying season–his “rookie year” as it were. He wowed the audiences at Boston’s Stone Zoo with his flying ability and his cute, cuddly looks. When he returned to Valley Park after his success in Boston we decided to feature him in our new “Wings Around The World” program at Open House 2012, where he was an instant favorite.
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