Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Tawny Owl ringing.......

In my previous post I highlighted the recent surprise of discovering a Tawny Owl chick perched at the entrance at one of my nest boxes, and that I was going to return as soon as possible to investigate what has been occurring inside the said box. Well last night I made the return trip accompanied by a birding and ringing buddy, Neil Hagley. I was really looking forward to it as although I have had plenty of experience with Little Owls & Barn Owls this was going to be my first real up close and personnel encounter with a Tawny.  

Neil has had previous experience of ringing Tawny Owls and he expressed that when we open up the box we should do so with caution. Unlike Barn Owls that when disturbed do all they can to just flee the nest and return when all is quiet and Little Owls that just stay motionless Tawny Owls can be a problem? They have a bit of a reputation of being fearless when it comes to defending their young and can get quite aggressive. There have even been reports that Tawny Owls will attack a human and inflict actual harm if they intrude too close to a nest site, famous bird photographer Eric Hoskins even lost and eye after being attacked by a Tawny Owl!!   

Neil advised that wearing glasses should be mandatory as we didn't want another similar instance to what happened to poor old Eric Hoskins! I volunteered to go up the ladder first and risk life and limb by opening the door, I was pretty nervous at first but once I'd opened up the door and realized there were no adult owls in residence the tension reduced some what. It was then Neils turn to go up to the box and extract the chicks.

Sadly there was only the one chick in the box, but what a beauty it turned out to be!

Tawny Owl - site No 7
The next box we checked out had a two, possible three Tawny Owl chicks in it, but we decided to leave ringings these individuals until another time as an adult bird was in there too!

At the third box things started to turn sour, only last week there was an adult Tawny Owl, and unhatched egg and two tiny chicks but on this visit they had all vanished being replaced by a Stock Dove on two eggs?? Blimey if these Stock Doves can evict Tawnies they must be the Mike Tyson's of the birding world!

At the last box we checked things took a turn for the more positive, no adult owl was in residence but three very healthy chicks were. Neil very carefully and quickly extracted them all one by one from the box and were all rung in no time at all.

Neil worked so speedily it even gave us time to have a quick family portrait. 

I made the most of my first close up encounter with these majestic creatures and managed a few close ups.

It was a great experience going out ringing my first Tawny chicks, I learnt a lot, especially the respect that these birds must be given! And finally I must give Neil a massive thank you for giving up his spare time to come and ring my owls, cheers buddy.

Neil & the 3 chicks from the last site.
Thanks for stopping by and hopefully there will be some Little Owls and Barns Owls to ring soon?
Watch this space...................


  1. A great blog Paul... Nice to see these owls are thriving....

  2. I put three Tawny boxes up over the winter and started to monitor another one that a landowner put up. Jackdaws have taken one, the other three are empty. Whilst being excited about trying to get my first Tawny nest record I was also very very nervous to be polite as I know about the Eric Hoskings incident. Great blogging Paul...

    1. As Col said in his comment, just stick with it Simon and it will happen sooner or later. I have found that if the box is facing between north & north east we are having better results, maybe check out your directions for a better chance?

  3. Great family image mate, fingers crossed for the Barnies now buddy.A quick message to Simon just keep at it you will reap the rewards.

  4. What a wonderful experience that must have been! A great post again, Paul!