Eurasian eagle-owl

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The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) belongs to the family of typical owls, Strigidae.

These owl species are distributed in much of Europe and Asia, including northwest region of the Indian subcontinent. The Eurasian eagle-owl does not occur in Southeast Asia. There are sixteen recognized subspecies of these owls.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Eurasian Eagle-owl Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Eurasian eagle-owl - Overview

  • Scientific name: Bubo bubo
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Strix Bubo Linnaeus, 1758, Bubo ignavus Forster, 1817, Bubo maximus
  • Family: Strigidae › Strigiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Eurasian eagle-owl, Chinese: 雕鸮, French: Grand-duc d’Europe, German: Uhu, Spanish: Búho real, Russian: Филин, Japanese: ワシミミズク, Tamil: Komban Aandhai
  • Other names: Common Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Great Eagle Owl, European eagle-owl
  • Distribution: most of the Europe and Asia, excluding southeast Asia
  • Diet and feeding habits: mostly small mammals and birds
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is closely related to the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), lesser horned owl (Bubo magellanicus), pharaoh eagle-owl (Bubo ascalaphus) and Bengal eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis).

The sixteen recognized subspecies of the Eurasian owl are: B. b. borissowi, B. b. tibetanus, B. b. hispanus, B. b. bubo, B. b. kiautschensis, B. b. ussuriensis, B. b. ruthenus, B. b. interpositus, B. b. jakutensis, B. b. nikolskii, B. b. sibiricus, B. b. yenisseensis, B. b. hemachalanus, B. b. omissus, B. b. turcomanus and B. b. tarimensis.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a large bird, measuring 60 to 70 cm in length. The male is slightly smaller. The male weighs around 1500 to 2800 grams and the female weighs around 2300 to 4200 grams. The wingspan is 160 to 190 cm. The plumage coloration is highly variable among the subspecies.

The nominate subspecies B. b. bubo has the darkest plumage and the most colorful. Overall they have brownish or rich rufous plumage. There is broad black streaking on the upperparts, head and breast. The lower belly is pale brown.

Their body is barrel-shaped. They have distinctive ear tufts and orange eyes. The facial disc is poorly developed. The wings and the tail are streaked or barred. The tail is short and rounded. The curved beak is gray.

All the juvenile feathers are moulted and replaced by the fourth year and another molt takes place at sixth to twelve year. Their call is a deep resonant "ooh-hu", "OO-OO" or a harsh "kveck-kveck" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Eurasian eagle-owl - Bubo bubo
Birds of India - Image of Eurasian eagle-owl - Bubo bubo
Indian birds - Image of Eurasian eagle-owl - Bubo bubo
Birds of India - Photo of Eurasian eagle-owl - Bubo bubo
Birds of India - Photo of Eurasian eagle-owl - Bubo bubo
Indian birds - Image of Eurasian eagle-owl - Bubo bubo
Indian birds - Image of Eurasian eagle-owl - Bubo bubo
Birds of India - Picture of Eurasian eagle-owl - Bubo bubo

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Eurasian eagle-owl species are distributed in much of Europe and Asia, including northwest region of the Indian subcontinent. They do not occur in Southeast Asia.

The Eurasian eagle-owl subspecies B. b. borissowi is distributed in Sakhalin and South Kuril Islands of Russia and north Japan. The subspecies B. b. tibetanus is distributed in Central and eastern Tibet and adjacent regions of south China.

The owl subspecies B. b. hispanus is distributed in Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The subspecies B. b. bubo is distributed in much of Europe and western Russia.

The Eurasian eagle-owl subspecies B. b. kiautschensis is distributed in Central and south China and North and South Korea. The subspecies B. b. ussuriensis is distributed in Southeast Russia, Mongolia and northeast China.

The owl subspecies B. b. ruthenus is distributed in European Russia, foothills of Ural Mountains and lower Volga Basin. The subspecies B. b. sibiricus is distributed in foothills of Urals and west Altai.

The subspecies B. b. interpositus is distributed in Romania, south Ukraine, Volga Delta, Greece, Turkey, Middle East and Iran. The subspecies B. b. jakutensis is distributed in northeast Siberian Russia.

The owl subspecies B. b. nikolskii is distributed in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, northwest Pakistan and northwest India. The subspecies B. b. omissus is distributed in Turkmenistan and west China.

The Eurasian eagle-owl subspecies B. b. yenisseensis is distributed in Central Siberia, Lake Baikal, Altai and north Mongolia. The subspecies B. b. hemachalanus is distributed in Pamirs and Himalayas.

The owl subspecies B. b. turcomanus is distributed between Kazakhstan and west Mongolia. The subspecies B. b. tarimensis is distributed in northwest China.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Eurasian eagle-owl species are moderately forest dependent. They inhabit various natural and human-altered ecosystems. These Eurasian eagle-owl species inhabit arable lands, pasturelands, rural gardens, tropical and subtropical degraded forests. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 4500 meters.

The Eurasian eagle-owl also inhabit non-aquatic caves and subterranean habitats, rocky country with cliffs and ravines, taiga, boreal forests, coniferous forests, montane forests, temperate forests, temperate grasslands, subtropical shrublands, river valleys with gorges, and temperate shrublands.

Nearly 200 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of Eurasian eagle-owl species have been identified in Europe, spread over Ukraine, Sweden, Belarus, Greece, Spain, Slovenia, France, Serbia, Romania, Finland, Portugal, Armenia, Poland, Estonia, Macedonia, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium and Austria for conservation efforts.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Eurasian eagle-owl species is mostly mammals and birds. Their primary food is small mammals weighing 100 to 2000 grams. Birds, voles, rats, mice, rabbits, hares, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects and other invertebrates comprise their diet.

The prey is observed from a high perch and the owl swoops down swiftly, often killing the prey quickly by its strong grip with talons and sometimes by biting on the head.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the Eurasian eagle-owl species is from February to August in Scandinavia, from January to March in Spain and in December in France. These Eurasian owl species do not build nests, normally nesting on rocks, boulders, cliff ledges, crevices and caves.

The Eurasian eagle-owls are highly territorial during the breeding season and the males establish territories by singing from the highest points in the territory. These owls usually pair for life and the mating is preceded by an elaborate courtship ritual and calling.

The clutch of Eurasian eagle-owl contains two to four white eggs. The female incubates the eggs and the young hatch out in 30 to 35 days of incubation. The male hunts and bring the food for the female and the hatchlings. The female tears the prey into suitably-sized pieces for the young to swallow.

Young Eurasian eagle-owls fledge by about 7–8 weeks of age and the parents feed and care for them for at least another month. The young owls lead a nomadic life till they mature and establish a territory.

Migration and movement patterns

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a non-migrant resident bird. Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is estimated to be around 100,000 to 500,000 mature individual birds. The overall population size of these owl species is considered to be declining.

Throughout its range it is reported to be rare to uncommon. The generation length is 12.1 years. Their distribution size is about 51,400,000

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The ongoing deforestation and destruction of the habitat, trapping for pet trade and nest robbing are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the owl species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has evaluated the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) and listed them in Appendix II.
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Bubo bubo
Species:B. bubo
Binomial name:Bubo bubo
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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