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Tawny Owls in Danger

These are the owls that were the inspiration for the delightful and wise character Owl in the Winnie the Pooh stories. However, the tawny owls in Britain are threatened because there is a decline in the population of their main food source the vole. Now you are probably wondering what a vole is? Well, a vole is a small rodent-like creature that resembles a mouse. Studies have discovered that field voles have decreased in great numbers in the U.K.

As a result, this change could possibly lead to a reduction in breeding by tawny owls. This is because tawny owls only breed when there is abundance in prey. Their breeding, the eggs they lay, and how successful tawny owls are when they fledge their chicks all depends on how many voles are around for a food source. Researchers thought that the problem stemmed from climate change. The pattern for voles is such that in “off years” the vole numbers in a typical habitat can be as low as 20 per hectare and in the busy seasons can rise to as much as 700. This pattern has a tendency to repeat itself every three to four years.

So the poor tawny owl sits about and hopes for the voles to keep returning. Unfortunately, this is no longer happening. Right now the tawny owl population hasn’t started to decrease but they are breeding less. It will become evident with time as these owls live for an average of five years. As it is owls are a much-adored species. Everyone expects to hear their calls. The reduction of the vole population can also cause problems for other species such as foxes, badgers, weasels, and buzzards. However, in lots of natural and ancient woodlands, tawny owls are doing well.


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    • Hold on, wait a minute. Remember when they said that clearcutting the trees was the reason the owls were going extinct. Then about a year later they found that clearcuts were actually where the owls were nesting. When it stopped the owls had more severe issues. Science needs time as well as information.


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