Cityvisitor blog

Did you hear a twit or a twoo?

Members of the public are being asked to help out with an owl survey – by listening out and noting sounds of twit-twoo.

What fascinated me the most about this project was the information that in fact the twit and the twoo sounds (or more accurately described as hoot and kee-wick) actually come from two separate birds and are two sides of a ‘conversation’.

The ‘twoo’ or ‘hoot’ sound is in fact the male tawny owl calling out and the ‘twit’ or the ‘kee-wick’ is the female response. What I really love about this is that it almost sounds like she the female owl is calling the male a twit!!!!

The British Trust for Ornithology is running a survey gathering information about the impact of urbanisation artificial lighting on the behaviour of the owls.

Anyone wanting to help can head to the organisation’s website for examples of the male and female calls before heading outside to listen in their area for 20 mins on any one day or more between now and the end of March 2019. You then just need to record your results, even if you didn’t hear any owl sounds.

The British Trust for Ornithology says: “If you do hear them, then we want to know the type of call you heard. The hooting or “twoo” sound is usually made by the male and is a territorial call. You can sometimes hear a female responding to a male’s “twoo” call with a sharp “kee-wick”. Together this duet produces the classic “twit twoo” sound, which many associate with these owls. By recording which of the calls you hear you will be telling us about which of the sexes are present. “

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