Finnish Museum of Natural History

Tawny owl colour morphs

Participate in research on tawny owl colour morphs!

Tawny owls (Strix aluco) come in either brown or grey colour morphs. Studies have shown that those with grey plumage survive better than brown ones do during cold winters with lots of snow. We are now trying to understand why.

Crypsis of tawny owl colour morphs is currently under research in Luomus and Novia University of Applied Sciences.

Crypsis might have a great effect on tawny owl winter survival, as a conspicuous owl is easy prey and also a target for mobbing by small birds.

The aim of this study is to see if the brown morph is more conspicuous in a snowy landscape compared to the grey morph. People are used as perceivers, so You can also participate in the study!

Participating takes about 5 minutes. Participate here!


Thank you for participating the study! The study got over 5400 participants and provided us with a lot of valuable research material. Preliminary results support our assumption of tawny owls’ camouflage: brown owl in a snowy landscape is the easiest to detect, grey owl in a snowy landscape is the most difficult to detect.

More detailed results and biological meanings will be discussed in my doctoral thesis.

We have run a lottery among participants and have informed the winner about a free guided tour at the Finnish Museum of Natural History.

Best regards,

Katja Koskenpato

Pictures of the mounted owls used in the study. These mounts are from the collections of Finnish Museum of Natural History.

Read more about the study from the pages of academy research fellow Patrik Karell and doctoral student Katja Koskenpato.

The study is supported by:

Person in charge of the page: 
Katja Koskenpato