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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Books on Owls

If you read my blog from time to time, you will probably have noticed that, in the last 9 months or so, I have developed a strong interest in owls!! Whilst there is a reasonably good level of information on owls in the usual birding books, such as the Collins Guide, there are comparatively few books specifically on the subject of owls in the UK - unless you are looking for works on Barn Owls alone. After some internet searching, and a visit to Scotland, I have in the last few months found some publications that I found to be of great interest. Two of these take a bit of finding, but the third is freely available.

Owls of Britain and Europe, by A.A. Wardaugh

This book has been out of print for some time. My volume was published in 1983. I found my copy on the internet through Abe Books. The book has 128 pages, and is illustrated. Sections of the book deal with; 1. The origin of owls and their place among the birds; 2. Characteristics of owls; 3. Owls resident in Britain; 4. (a smaller section on) European owls not resident in Britain; 5. A comparison of lifestyles; 6 Owl watching. This is a really good read, and well worth the £8.30 (including shipping) that I paid for it.

Owls, by Keith Graham

This next publication is one that I was lucky enough to win (my choice) in a quiz at the Grant Arms hotel in Grantown on Spey - an establishment that I can't recommend highly enough! It is published locally by Colin Baxter Photography in Grantown on Spey and carries a price tag of £5.95. Its 48 pages cover all the UK owls, including Snowy. It is beautifully illustrated with images from some of UK's finest bird photographers, including Andy Rouse. You may be able to get it directly from the publishers, but why not try the Grant Arms or, better still, stay at the Grant Arms and buy (or win!) a copy.

Guide to British owls and owl pellets, from FSC in conjunction with the Hawk and Owl Trust

This may not sound like an interesting publication, particularly when it is described as an 8-page folded document. However, it is jam-packed full of useful information. I first saw it on the wall of the BWWC club room at the Grant Arms. As well as concise and specific information on each species of owl, the information on pellets will be a welcome addition to the fieldcraft of anyone wanting to learn more about finding owls. I got mine for £3.75 (incl. P&P) directly from the Hawk and Owl Trust.


  1. Good idea for a post Richard. It can be a pain in the neck finding decent books on a particular species. I find myself constantly buying 2nd hand copies of no longer published works simple because nothing new is out there on the subject.

  2. Thanks Glen. I'm all for sharing knowledge/information, and will be looking to do this as I gain more experience myself. However, there are times when I feel it's necessary to hold things back - for example, I am purposely being vague about the locations of my owls as there are still, I'm sorry to say, some unscrupulous people out there.

  3. Wow Richard. So is there a black market for Owl and / or their eggs? Or do people hunt them?

  4. Hi Glen. There are, I am told, still a significant number of egg collectors out there. I am a volunteer on the Rutland Water Osprey Project, and we consider it necessary to mount a 24 hour watch on the nests when eggs are present. A friend of mine has put up owl boxes this year, and already suffered from raids on the eggs. However, my main concern is not to attract too many local birders to the owl nesting sites so they end up being harrassed, as they can be sensitive to disturbance. Interest in owls seems to be growing, which is great, but I feel that there are many people out there without the attitude or skills to seek out owls responsibly.

  5. Its sad that such actions are necessary Richard. That others who are interested could pose a threat is a very good point. One definitely worth keeping in mind.

  6. Hi Glen. Somehow I managed to switch my response to your comment to the previous thread on Ospreys and Owls! However, you managed to pick it up! I'll leave it there now, and close this! You are very welcome to contact me by e-mail - contact details in the 'Copyright' section, bottom right of this blog.


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