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Eurasian Eagle-Owl - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Great Eagle-Owl

Photo by John Keep
Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria, May 2003
Bubo bubo

Identification

Largest European Owl at 65-70cm (a little larger than Common Buzzard).
Adults: brown upperparts with blark markings including both streaks and bars in a somewhat irregular pattern. Underparts are clearly paler than upperparts, but have black streaks mainly on breast while belly has pattern of black feather shafts and cross-bars. Large, orange eyes appear in a facial disk that is greyish-brown to buff, bordered dark but with somewhat inconspicuous border. Eye-bows are pale stretching from above the eye to below the eye and running between the eye and the bill. The overall effect can be quite fierce-looking. Prominent wide ear tufts varying between pointed sideways or up and only disappearing in flight. Bill and claws black. Legs are fully feathered. Bright patch on outer wing visible in flight.

Variation

Basic color differs quite a lot through the huge range, from tawny to blackish to buff on upperside and to almost whitish or greyish-brown on underside. The extent of dark streaks on both upperside and underside is also variable.

Photo by rony_roshtov
West Negev, Israel, December 2005

Similar Species

Pharaoh Eagle-Owl is smaller and paler than even the nearest populations of Eurasian Eagle Owl; there is an overlap in range in the middle east (subspecies interpositus). Also check especially Long-eared Owl among smaller species.

Distribution

Europe through much of Asia
Europe: resident from Scandinavia to the Balkans, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, south of France, Spain, and Portugal. Spot-wise distribution in the rest of Europe, partly from released or escaped individuals including in Belgium, the British Isles, Germany, and Denmark. Vagrant individuals do occur outside of breeding range.
North Africa: probably extinct from its former range in Morocco and Algeria.
Asia: absent from the northern areas lacking forest but other wise to north-east Asia, to southern China, northern India, the Himalayas and the Middle East. Local in northernmost Japan.

Fledgling
Photo by Robert L Jarvis
Dunsop Valley, Lancashire, May 2007

Taxonomy

Subspecies

There are at least 14 subspecies[1]:

  • B. b. hispanus: Iberian Peninsula; formerly Atlas Mountains of northern Africa (extinct from north Africa?)
  • B. b. bubo: Scandinavia and Spain through western Europe to western Russia
  • B. b. ruthenus: Central European Russia to Ural Mountains and lower Volga basin
  • B. b. interpositus: Turkey and north-western Iran to southern Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria
  • B. b. sibiricus: Western foothills of Ural Mountains to Ob River and western Altai
  • B. b. yenisseensis: Central Siberia to northern Mongolia
  • B. b. turcomanus: Lower Volga River and Ural River to north-western China and western Mongolia
  • B. b. omissus: Turkmenistan to extreme western China
  • B. b. hemachalanus: Pamirs and northern Tien Shan south to western Himalayas and western Tibet
  • B. b. nikolskii: Eastern Iraq to Iran, Afghanistan and western Pakistan
  • B. b. jakutensis: North-eastern Siberia (Lena River to Sea of Okhotsk)
  • B. b. ussuriensis: South-eastern Siberia to north-eastern China, Sakhalin Island, northern Hokkaido and southern Kuril Island
  • B. b. kiautschensis: Western and central China (south to Yunnan and Sichuan) to Korea
  • B. b. swinhoei: South-eastern China

Subspecies B. b. interpositus has been proposed for elevation to status as full species[4].

Photo by lior kislev
Ramat Sirin, Israel, May 2010

Habitat

Mountains and forests with cliffs and rocky areas.

Behaviour

Flight

Fast and powerful flight.

Diet

It hunts a large variety of prey including mammals from voles and rats to hares, bird or varying sizes up to herons, buzzard and Capercaillie, reptiles, and even larger insects and earthworms. Often will prey on smaller owls occurring in the area.

Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Birdwatchers Pocket Guide ISBN 1-85732-804-3
  3. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  4. Konig & Weick, Owls of the world. ISBN 978-0-7136-6548-2
  5. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

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