This compact, medium-sized owl has large, black eyes. It has a distinct colour variation with a continuous gradation from greyish to more reddish-brown.
The tawny owl breeds mainly in hollow trees in forests, parkland and wooded farmland, preferring old broadleaf trees that provide large holes. It can be found in gardens and towns throughout Europe, except for Ireland and the far north.
The tawny owl is sedentary and nocturnal. It has a distinctive call, especially in early spring and autumn. It feeds mainly on voles and insects, but also on birds, including other small owls.