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Return of the tawny owl with the wit to woo

PUBLISHED: 12:14 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:41 07 September 2010

Crouch End residents have heard that hoot owl singing

Crouch End residents have heard that hoot owl singing

By Charlotte Newton HE comes out at night and is rarely seen, but the Crouch End Tawny Owl has made his come-back with a rendition of Too whit-too woo at dawn. It s almost a year since a tawny owl let out a catchy hoot. But this week, residents living nea

By Charlotte Newton

HE comes out at night and is rarely seen, but the Crouch End Tawny Owl has made his come-back with a rendition of Too whit-too woo at dawn.

It's almost a year since a tawny owl let out a catchy hoot. But this week, residents living near Parkland Walk awoke to the familiar tune once more.

Sue Hessel of Haslemere Road, Crouch End, said: "It's a mystery where the owl has been for the past year. I heard it for the first time on Thursday morning and I'm delighted it has returned. It's wonderful that we have wildlife on our doorstep, even though we live in central London."

Cindy Blaney is the wood keeper at Highgate Wood and has worked with owls for 15 years. She said: "This may not be the same owl as the one residents heard a year ago. Owls are territorial and they tend to have a mate for life. When they become sexually mature at one, they have to leave their parents' nest and find their own territory.

"The courtship period begins in December and carries on until February, so my guess is this is a male who has found his mate and is defending his territory in preparation for the breeding season in mid-March.

"The other option is that he is new to the woodland and is still looking for his match, so he's roaming around and calling out to females; in other words it's a courtship call."

The average age of a Tawny owl is five years. The current record holder of the oldest ever tawny in the UK, is a 21-year-old from North Yorkshire.

The British Trust for Ornithology runs a number of national, annual surveys to monitor the status of many bird species across a range of habitats.

Anyone wishing to submit their records of birds spotted should log onto the BTO website at www.bto.org/birdtrack.

More than 60,000 volunteers across the country are also involved in a survey of birds found in gardens.

To register birds in your garden, log on to www.bto.org/gbw.

OWL FACTS

Tawny owls are the most common and widespread owl in Europe.

There are about 20,000 pairs of tawny owls in the UK.

The normal 'song' - the familiar hooting of the male - is a territorial call, a courtship call, and an announcement that he is bringing food to the female

Their preferred habitat is woodland, gardens, parks and urban areas.

Tawny owls are often called 'hoot owls' in America and in Blind Willie McTell Bob Dylan sang:

'I heard the hoot owl singing

As they were taking down the tents

The stars above the barren trees

Were his only audience'

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