Monday, 5 October 2009

Owl on the prowl

Our Tawny Owls are back. So far we've only heard one calling out in the dark; no male call - just the female. Before last winter's chainsaw madness you could hear both members of the family unit calling out to each other nearly every night. We reckon they were driven away by the constant disturbance and it's quite possible that their roost was either lopped off or felled. So this newcomer might not even be one of our much loved pair. I've heard it three or four times in the last week. Debbie heard the owl making quite a bit of noise at 5am in the morning. She looked out and saw the bird perched on the tv aerial on the roof of the farm house.
A few years ago a story was reported on about a man who used to imitate the Tawny Owl's call to get a neighborhood owl to call back to him. He kept up the habit for years until one day he discovered that there had never ever been an owl to call to. A neighbour had unknowingly been doing exactly the same thing all the time.
The picture above is from an ancient bird book of mine: Birds of Field and Forest - first printed in 1959. My copy is from 1964. Each bird has a full colour page plate painting opposite its description. The pictures are quite well done, though maybe a bit posed. Modern bird books tend to exaggerate the plumage colours and features, whereas these are duller and darker than life, though this could be down to the printing process and the original artworks might have been much brighter.
Tawny Owl picture © 1959 Paul Hamlyn Ltd and Artia.

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