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Animal Detail ViewՄանրամասն` նրանց մասին

28.02.2012

Eurasian-Eagle owl (Bubo bubo)


Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Bubo
Species: Bubo Bubo

 

Description

The Eurasian Eagle-Owls are the largest of all owl species. They achieve a wingspan up 170 centimeter, a body-length up to 70 centimeter and a mass between 2 and 4 kilo. Its huge appearance with its big round head and the big forward-faced orange eyes gives it its characteristic look. Remarkable are also its feather tufts on its head which resemble the ears of mammals and are up to 8 centimeter long. Most of the time the owl lays the tufts back on its head. Only if it is excited it sets them up. Its plumage is brown or gray-white patterned. This coloration is a good disguise and very useful to remain undiscovered. Its legs and feet are also completely covered with feathers, except the strong crooked claws. A white throat is visible when the Eurasian Eagle Owl sings its famous call “oohu”. Their sensitive ears are asymmetrically placed, whereas the size and the form are the same. This structure gives owls their unique sense of hearing which is the most important support for their hunt at night. But also their eyes adapt to hunting in the dark, catching as much light as possible. They can be moved in any direction so that owls don't have to move their whole head in order to follow their prey with their eyes. Eurasian-Eagle Owls have real natural enemies. If they achieve adulthood their life expectancy is approximately 20 years in wilderness and even 60 years in captivity.

Range and Habitat

Eurasian Eagle-Owls occupy North Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Their habitats vary a lot including wooded areas, farmlands,warm deserts, grasslands and mountain ranges. For hunting they especially prefer open landscape and nests are often built in rocky areas. Habitats are chosen by food supply and proper nesting sites.

Behavior

Eurasian Eagle-Owls are sedentary and live solitary except in breeding times. They protect their territory from other owls and only if food is rare overlapping hunting areas exist. A lack of food is also the reason why owls sometimes search for new territories, otherwise they stay in the same area for a lifetime. Tough Eurasian Eagle-Owls are large animals it is hard to discover one. Because they are nocturnal they roost quite inactive in high trees during the day. Hunting in daylight can happen, when less food is available. Vocalization is important for Eurasian Eagle-Owls and it is more likely to hear one than to see one. Various hooks and calls are used to clarify the frontiers of their territory and communicate with other owls in breeding times.

Diet

Eagle Owls are carnivores which mostly hunt at night. They use various hunting methods: Sometimes they catch their prey on the ground, sometimes in full flight. Open spaces for hunting are preferred. Eurasian Eagle-Owls aren't quite selective in the choice of their food. Predominately they hunt small mammals as voles or rats and birds including crows, ducks, seabirds and sometimes birds of prey as other owls. Sometimes snakes, crabs and insects are eaten as well. The whole prey is swallowed but later the owl coughs up the parts it couldn't digest as hairs, feathers and bones. These so called owl pallets play a important rule for scientist to understand the food habits of this nocturnal bird.

Reproduction

Pair bonds are formed in autumn. In February or March breeding starts and the female lays 3 to 5 eggs in nest which is often a crevice between rocks, cave entrances or nests of other birds. The number of eggs depends on the availability of proper food. Incubation lasts approximately 35 days and is done by the female whereas the male hunts prey and feeds and protects its mate. After 10 to 11 weeks the young owls are able to fly but they leave the nest some weeks earlier and discover the surroundings. Indeed, they stay near to their parents because they still get food from them. In autumn the chicken finally leave the nest and search for own habitats. These areas are often near their place of birth. After 2 to 3 years the Eurasian Eagle-Owls achieve maturity.

Conservation Status

The number of Eurasian Eagle-Owls is steadily declining because of habit loss and danger through human activities. However, at the moment the species is still relatively numerous and widespread. Therefor, on the Red List of IUCN the species is evaluated as Least Concern. The global population is estimated preliminarily to count 250000 to 2500000 individuals. 

Owls and humans

There are many contradictory views on owls in mythology and cultures! They are feared but also admired, are considered to be wise or foolish. In America different Indian tribes had a various imagination about the rule of owls: For Apaches Indians the owl stand for approaching death whereas, for example, other tribes saw this animal as a symbol of protection for brave warriors. Also in fables of Ancient Greece it was often a sign of wisdom and sometimes owls had power of prophecy. It was the symbol of goddess Athene, who stands for wisdom. In the Middle Ages in Europe owls, which in general are often seen in the dark, were associated with witchcraft and often were feared because of their silent fly through the dark, their mysterious appearance and spooky voice. However, owls are appreciated by many farmers because of their importance of controlling rodent populations.  

Short Facts

  • Eurasian Eagle-Owls imitate the first animal they see. Therefor it is difficult to release a owl from captivity if they are not raised by their own parents. If it see a human first it would think it is a human too.
  • Owls have the most accurate sense of hearing of any tested animal.
  • Sometimes it seems to the spectator that an owl can turn its head one time around. In reality it can't turn it further than 270º.

 

 

 

 



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