50 - 61cm
0.5 - 1.3kg
14 - 20 yrs
The Ural owl is a medium-sized nocturnal owl of the genus Strix, with up to 15 known subspecies found across Europe and northern Asia. It is often compared to both the great grey owl and tawny owl, which it strongly resembles, and falls somewhere between these two species in terms of relative size.
Like other members of the genus Strix, it has a large, rounded facial disc with no ear tufts. Its plumage is primarily a greyish-brown with dark brown streaking on the back of the head and underparts. The tail is long and wedge-shaped with dark barring on the upper side, and the wings are rounded. It has an orange-yellow beak and small black eyes.
What Does it Look Like?
What Does it Sound Like?
The song of the male is a deep sequence of “wuhu huwuho-huwuwo“ notes repeated at intervals of 30 seconds. The female has a hoarse, higher-pitched song which gives it a bark-like quality. There is also a heron-like “kraoh” that is uttered by both sexes, as well as a rough series of nasal notes that is given in aggression.
Ural Owls feed primarily on voles, as well as mice, rats and other mammals up to the size of small hares. However they will also take medium-sized to large birds such as jays and willow ptarmigan, although normally only up to the size of a woodpigeon. Surplus food is stored at the nest or in nearby caches. It hunts mainly from perches.
What Does it Eat?
Where Does it Nest?
It nests in hollow tree trunks or disused raptor nests, but may use a nestbox. It lays two to four eggs, which hatch after one month. The young leave the nest after about four weeks, but will not fly until about six weeks old. It is a very aggressive owl, chasing other birds of prey from its territory, and it will attack human intruders, especially when young are present.
It can be found across Europe and Asia, from Japan in the east to Scandinavia in the west. The northern populations occupy similar habitat to the great grey owl, nesting in lowland forests. In central Europe it is an upland species, preferring deciduous woodland. It usually occupies open woodland and is more often found in moist rather than dry areas.
Where Does it Live?
What is its Status?
In areas dominated by open areas, the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) outcompetes this species. It also suffers from forestry management, which has resulted in the loss of hollow and broken trees which provide nesting sites. That said, it has an extremely large range and a largely stable population which means it is not considered to be threatened.
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