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Take time to listen out for the 'twit-twoo' of tawny owls

As people in the UK are urged to spend time listening out for the "twit-twoo" of tawny owls to help monitor how the birds are faring. It must be noted that Gibraltar too has this endangered owl and sighting can be reported directly to GONHS.

Tawny owl numbers are thought to have declined over the last few decades and they have recently been added to the "amber" list of birds of conservation concern.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is concerned that the species may be vanishing from towns and cities.

Vincent Robba from GONHS told the Chronicle there is one owl around The Mount area, possibly two but they are not common to the Rock. There are listed on the GONHS website as occasional visitors in winter and they may breed here.

BTO are seeking public participation because the birds are difficult to monitor as they are nocturnal, so it is running a tawny owl calling survey to monitor their presence through the sound of their calls.

Members of the public are being encouraged to spend 20 minutes on one evening a week listening out in parks, gardens and woods for the distinctive "hoot" calls of the males and the "kee-wick" of the females.

Together the two owls calling in harmony make the kewick-whoo or twit-twoo sound for which the tawny is known.

Even if people do not hear an owl, the researchers say that is still important information, as it indicates where the species is missing.

Claire Boothby, tawny owl calling survey organiser at the BTO, said, "Getting involved couldn't be simpler - just wrap up warm and give yourself 20 minutes to listen for the haunting calls of tawny owls between now and the end of March.

"You can listen from your garden, local wood or park, or even from the comfort of the sofa with your window open, and tell us whether or not you hear an owl.

"Don't worry if you don't hear one in your 20 minutes - that record is just as valuable and you'll become one of our 'zero heroes'."

Nearly 6,000 volunteers have already reported what they have heard as part of the survey but the BTO would like at least 10,000 people across the UK to take part in the "citizen science" research.

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