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Tawny owls, Strix aluco, laid female-biased clutches on territories with more abundant prey (field voles) in June, the month that chicks fledge. This appeared to enhance the subsequent reproductive success of fledglings, as in 1995 there was a significant correlation between the number of chicks fledged by adult females and the June vole abundance in the territory on which they were reared as chicks. This relationship did not hold for males. Since tawny owls lay eggs in March, these results indicate that owls are able to predict the June vole numbers on their territory, and respond by producing more of the sex most likely to gain a long-term benefit when resources are good.

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Publication Date





1111 - 1116