Eurasian Eagle-Owl

In each of the species there is one that stands out from the rest. Owls are no exception, and within their species is one of the most majestic bird species in history: the Eagle Owl.

Where does this species live?

The bubo bubo, as it is called in the scientific community because of the sounds it emits, is widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Mainly, it is common in the north-eastern part of Europe, although it can also be found in the territories surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as the Iberian Peninsula.

bubo bubo

It can be found in different types of habitats, such as semi-desert areas, temperate forests, steppes and even tundra. Anthropic pressure during the mid-twentieth century caused their populations to retreat, and more inaccessible areas in the mountains were occupied. It is currently in the process of recovery in many areas.

I want to know what it’ s like physically!

Due to the large number of subspecies it has, its size is very varied. It can measure from 29 – 73 cm, and weigh between 1.5 to 4 kg. It is the largest raptor of the night owl. There does not appear to be much difference between male and female, except for the size, and the male has more bristly “ears” than females.

One of its major characteristics is two strands of feathers on the sides of the head, forming a “V” between its orange eyes. Its belly is pale and striped, with a marbled back of dark tones and white spots. When it takes off, it is direct, powerful and with frequent glides. It has a deep howl that can be heard over an area of 2 km. It is capable of emitting powerful alarm barks similar to those made by the fox.

Their life expectancy at liberty is not very long, and about 80% of the specimens do not exceed one year of life. Those who overcome this phase can live up to 20 years. In captivity, there have been cases of specimens that have lived to the age of 60.

Due to its wide range, it has a wide variety of subspecies. A total of 20 subspecies have been recognized, based on the color of their feathers and size. These subspecies are:

  • Bubo bubo bubo bubo
  • Bubo bubo hemachalanus
  • Bubo bubo hispanus
  • Bubo bubo. interpositions
  • Bubo bubo jakutensis
  • Bubo bubo kiautschensis
  • Bubo bubo nikolskii
  • Bubo bubo omissus
  • Bubo bubo ruthenus
  • Bubo bubo sibiricus
  • Bubo bubo swinhoei
  • Bubo bubo turcomanus
  • Bubo bubo ussuriensis
  • Bubo bubo yenisseensis

Previously, the subspecies of bubo bubo ascalaphus and bubo bubo gengalensis were in the same group, but in 2007 they became their own species. The smallest subspecies of this family is the bubo bubo nikoiskii, which lives in the deserts of Iran and Afghanistan.

Tell me more about this bird!

The truth is that this is a very territorial bird, which uses a signposting system to delimit its territory, thus indicating its occupation. Among these systems is territorial singing. The size of the territory will depend on each pair, based on the number of prey, the density of neighbouring pairs and the rate of replacement of territorial individuals.

The male and female usually live alone and only get together when the courtship season has arrived. When they find a good breeding site, they dig a small hole in the ground and make a distinctive ringing sound. The nest is built on tree trunks and cliffs.

Females lay 2 to 6 eggs once a year, usually in winter or early spring. Because they are so sensitive in their environment, if they do not have enough food, the laying can be delayed or reduced. The female incubates the eggs for 36 days while the male forages for food. When the chicks are born they have a white down that takes on the brown colour of their parents after 10- 12 days. The task of feeding and care is the female’s duty, but the male may also participate in it from time to time.

eagle owl

When they are three weeks old, they are able to feed and swallow on their own. It is at two months when they begin to fly, but only a few meters. By four months they have all their feathers. It is at this stage that they are most vulnerable to predators, although their plumage helps them to hide among the branches. At the end of autumn, young people are expelled by adults to begin their lives in search of an unoccupied territory.

The eagle owl is a super-predator found at the top of the food chain. Although they mainly eat small rodents, they also eat other small mammals such as rabbits, hares, squirrels, rats, pigeons, blackbirds and hedgehogs. In some cases, they have been seen catching a fawn weighing up to 10 kg. of weight. It does not usually hunt frogs or insects, but if it is short of food it becomes its target, along with fish it may even attack other carnivores, such as foxes, other owls or birds of prey.

They usually hunt at night, preferring open spaces to forests. They have a silent flutter and are coupled with incredible night vision and auditory acuity. Interestingly, his eyes do not move, but he moves his head almost three quarters around each direction, without moving his body, to observe what is around him.

Compared to other species of owls, this is highly valued as a pet bird, and is widely used in falconry, such as eagles and falcons. For this reason he is highly valued, because he is an excellent hunter. However, there are those who prefer it as a companion animal, as it is very majestic to look at. But it can be expensive to maintain, so keeping it as a pet is only for people on a large budget.

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