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Eurasian Eagle Owl

Bubo bubo

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56 - 75cm

1.3 - 1.9m

1.2 - 4.6kg

10 - 20 yrs

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The Eurasian eagle owl, often known as the European eagle owl, is a large species of owl found across vast swathes of Eurasia, making it one of the most widely distributed owls. This species currently has a small yet gradually increasing foothold within the UK and, after fierce debate, is now considered one of 6 native species, due in part to its long historical presence here.

Least Concern

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LC

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It has long, distinctive diamond-shaped ear tufts and a reasonably undefined facial disc compared to other owl species. Its plumage is mottled with blackish and tawny-coloured marks over most of its upperparts, whereas the underparts are more buff in colour with darker streaks. The wings and tail are barred and it has bright orange eyes.

What Does it Look Like?

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What Does it Sound Like?

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It has specific vocalisations used for either territorial or mating purposes. “Ooh-hu” is the primary territorial song of the male with the female creating a higher-pitched “uh-hu”, both of which are capable of travelling great distances. A terrifyingly loud “hooo” is used in threatening situations, with clicking and spitting sounds signalling annoyance.

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The primary prey are small mammals, namely rats, voles, hedgehogs, rabbits and hares. Like other owls, it may supplement its diet with birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians. In fact, over 600 individual prey species have been identified. Although many of these weigh less than 100g, its sheer power allows it to take down much larger prey, including deer.

What Does it Eat?

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Where Does it Nest?

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They nest on natural formations like rocks, caves and crevices, or amongst the roots of trees. Only one or two white eggs are laid per clutch, which are incubated by the female for one month. The chicks grow quickly, and can consume whole prey at three weeks. However, the strongest of the chicks will often kill its siblings.

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They are found broadly across Eurasia, from Spain through central Europe and Scandinavia, into the east through Russia and China, and south into the Middle East via Iran. Due to this vast range, it has adapted to many habitats, such as coniferous forests and deserts. It prefers rocky areas, which it uses for nesting.

Where Does it Live?

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What is its Status?

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Despite its vast range, the population seems to be falling. The leading cause is thought to be human disturbance, perhaps through leisure activities such as skiing and mountaineering, which causes these extremely sensitive owls to abandon their nest. In the 1960s, myxomatosis in rabbits led to a huge decline in Mediterranean populations of this species.

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