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Owls

Short-eared owl showing nictating 'third' eyelid

Image: Graham Catley

Owls are specialised birds with round heads and rather flat or dished faces, with forward-facing eyes and a short, hooked bill. Most are nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) but some may be seen by day.

Many species are resident but others are more or less nomadic, wandering and settling wherever there is plentiful food. Residents may rear regular families of three or four chicks each year, while nomadic ones may rear many more young in ‘good’ years and none at all in others.

Owls are found all over the temperate and tropical parts of the world.

Barn owl

With heart-shaped face, buff back and wings and pure white underparts, the barn owl is a distinctive and much-loved countryside bird. Widely distributed across the UK, and indeed the world, this bird ... More...

Barn owl

Little owl

This small owl was introduced to the UK in the 19th century. It can be seen in the daylight, usually perching on a tree branch, telegraph pole or rock. It will bob its head up and down when alarmed. I... More...

Little owl

Long-eared owl

The long-eared owl is medium-sized owl, smaller in size than a woodpigeon. It often looks long and thin, with head feathers (known as ear tufts even though they are not ears) which it raises when alar... More...

Long-eared owl

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owls are medium sized owls with mottled brown bodies, pale under-wings and yellow eyes. They are commonly seen hunting during the day. In winter, there is an influx of continental birds (... More...

Short-eared owl

Tawny owl

The tawny owl is an owl the size of a pigeon. It has a rounded body and head, with a ring of dark feathers around its face surrounding the dark eyes. It is mainly reddish brown above and paler underne... More...

Tawny owl