The Brown Hawk-owl, a summer visitor that migrates to Japan in the spring when trees begin to leaf out, has a distinctive “hoo hoo” call, feeds mainly on large insects, and can be found in forests from lowland areas to the mountains. Provided it can find a hole in a big tree in which to make its nest, the Brown Hawk-owl has even been known to breed on the grounds of temples and shrines.
Play birds singing
Many people confuse the call of the Brown Hawk-owl with that of the Ural Owl, but there are differences between the two. The Ural Owl has a much lower voice than the Brown Hawk-owl and cries "goroske hoo hoo." The Ural Owl, which is around the same size as a crow, makes its nest in the hollows of big trees. Its diet consists primarily of field mice, which means it probably doesn't live as near to you as the Brown Hawk-owl.
Brown Hawk-owls live in residential areas or parks and eat insects that gather under street lamps at night, such as moths, cicadas and beetles. As a result, the wings of moths and cicadas and the heads of unicorn beetles and stag beetles can be found around street lamps in the vicinity of Brown Hawk-owl nests. Since owls make no sound when flapping their wings, spotting a Brown Hawk-owl is difficult unless you can hear its call. If you do spot a Brown Hawk-owl, be sure to look at its distinctive yellow eyes.
Thanks to the improved functionality of digital cameras, more people are taking pictures of birds than ever before. However, it is important to have some knowledge of these wild birds so as not to startle them, particularly during breeding season because parent birds are nervous and may abandon their nest if you get too close. Please be aware of this when taking photographs.
The first of the seven principles of etiquette when photographing wild birds is: Do not get close to the nest of a wild bird. The Wild Bird Society of Japan, which oversaw the drawing up of these principles, has made it a rule not to publish photographs showing bird nests or chicks.
Nocturnal bird species like owls are fairly easy to photograph during breeding season, which results in large numbers of photographers gathering around their nests. Such behavior, however, is problematic and continues to occur every year.
The photograph on the right, taken by a professional photographer, shows a family of Brown Hawk-owls after having left their nest. The image was captured without the use of an electronic flash, which is said to have a negative impact on nocturnal birds. As soon as the photographer noticed that the parents appeared wary by narrowing their bodies, he promptly left the vicinity.
Two adult owls (far left and third from left) and their young after leaving their nest. The parent owls have a distinctive spotted pattern on their breasts and long tails.
Of the eleven owl family species in Japan, the Ural Owl lives in undeveloped woodlands near populated areas and deep forests. It is bigger than the pigeon-sized Brown Hawk-owl and has brownish black eyes.