Tawny Owl Strix aluco is the bird of the year 2011 in Latvia. It is the most common owl in Latvia. Although, there is word ‘forest’ in Latvian in its name, you may see it more often in parks, avenues or graveyards, as there are more great trees with appropriate holes for this bird. This is the 16th year when bird of the year is determined in Latvia. Usually rare and specially protected bird species owns this title, however, this year one of the most common nocturnal birds in Latvia was chosen to draw attention to its lifestyle and thus help it return to its home - forest as United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests. Campaign organizer Latvian Ornithological Society (BirdLife Partner) in cooperation with Nature Conservation Agency invite everybody to make and place artificial tree holes – bird-houses.
Harsh and snowy winters make it very hard for owls to find food as the thick snow with crust keeps mouse-like rodents safe from their claws. Winter like that was in year 2009/2010 when weak or already dead owls were find in many towns or forests in Latvia.
If you find seemingly fearless owl, at this time of the year, carefully, trying to avoid their sharp claws, put this animal in a fir-tree where it cannot be caught by dogs or cats and it can’t be seen by crows – they don’t like nocturnal birds.
However, if you find owl chicks in summer, you must not take them with you trying to “save” them. You have to remember that young owls leave their nest (tree hole) before they have learned how to fly, so the best that you can do is put this frustrated young bird on some bigger branch. Parents are somewhere near, watching you.