Eurasian Eagle Owl
One of the largest owls, weighing up to 4.6kg and with a wingspan of 131-188cm. Females are larger on average than the males, although that’s the only real external difference between the sexes. Plumage of the upper parts can be brown and black to tawny and pale grey. They have distinctive ear tufts and orange eyes.
Wide distribution across Europe, Russia and all the way across Asia. European distribution is most patchy, becoming less widespread in the western extent of its range.
Variety of habitats can support Eagle owl populations; rocky country with cliffs, open forest, river valleys with gorges, farmland with close by rocky areas are some but a few.
Diverse diet for an owl, and can often change year on year. Small mammals are their main source of prey (rats, voles, mice and rabbits). Birds, reptiles, fish and invertebrates can also contribute to their diets. Due to their size however, they do have the ability to take down much larger species such as young deer and wild boarlets.
Monogamous and nocturnal. Select the highest point in their territory to sing, called “song posts. Territorial vocalisations can be heard from October to December. Courtship calls can be heard from January to February. Do not nest build, rather they use steep slopes, crevices and caves to next in, although have been recorded nesting on the ground.
Currently now extinct in the UK due to hunting. Have had a few birds occur and occasionally breed in the UK in recent years, indicating the potential for the Eurasian eagle owl’s future return.
High human activity impacts the eagle owl’s number across its whole range. Habitat destruction and urbanisation, as well as natural prey depletion are major contributors to their population declines. Nest disturbance is also a primary threat, due to their sensitive nature; this is becoming more common in skiing and mountaineering leisure resorts.
Did you know?
- Can live around 20 years.
- Known as an Uhu in Germany and other parts of Europe due to the sound of their song/call.