In each of the species, there is one that stands out above all the others. Owls are no exception, and within their species is one of the most majestic birds in history: the eagle owl.
Where does this species live?
The bubo, as it is called in the scientific community due to the sounds it emits, is widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. Mainly, it is common in the northeast of Europe, although it can also be found in the territories that surround the Mediterranean Sea, such as the Iberian Peninsula.
It can be found in different types of habitats, such as semi-desert areas, temperate forests, steppes, and even in the tundra. Due to anthropic pressure during the middle of the 20th century, it caused their populations to regress, and they went to occupy more inaccessible areas in the mountains. It is currently in the process of recovery in many areas.
I want to know how it is physically!
Due to the large number of subspecies it has, its size is very varied. It can measure 29 – 73 cm and weigh between 1.5 to 4 kg. It is the largest night bird of prey. It does not seem that there are many differences between the male and the female, except for the size and that the male has “ears” more prickly than the females.
One of its greatest features is two tufts of feathers on the sides of its head, which form a “V” between its orange eyes. Its belly is pale and striped, with a dark mottled back with white spots. When it takes flight, it is direct, powerful, and with frequent glides. It has a deep howl that can be heard in an area of 2 km. It is capable of emitting powerful alarm barks similar to those of a fox.
Their life expectancy in the wild is not very long, and around 80% of the specimens do not exceed one year of life. Those who pass this phase can live up to 20 years. In captivity, there have been cases of specimens that have lived to be 60 years old.
Due to its wide area of distribution, it has a great variety of subspecies. A total of 20 subspecies have been recognized, based on their feather color and size. These subspecies are:
- Bubo bubo bubo
- Bubo bubo hemachalanus
- Bubo bubo Hispanic
- Bubo bubo. interpositus
- Bubo bubo jakutensis
- Bubo bubo kiautschensis
- Bubo bubo nikolskii
- Bubo bubo omissus
- Bubo bubo ruthenus
- Bubo bubo sibiricus
- Bubo bubo swinhoei
- Bubo bubo turcomanus
- Bubo bubo ussuriensis
- Bubo bubo yenisseensis
Before, the subspecies of the bubo bubo Ascalaphus and the bubo bubo gengalensis were in the same group, but in 2007 they became their own species. The smallest subspecies of this family is the bubo bubo nikoiskii, which lives in the deserts of Iran and Afghanistan.
Tell me more about this bird!
The truth is that it is a very territorial bird, which uses a signaling system to delimit its territory, thus indicating its occupation. Among these systems, is the territorial song. The size of the territory will depend on each pair, based on the number of prey, the density of neighboring pairs, and the turnover rate of the territorial individuals.
The male and female generally live alone and only come together when the courtship season has arrived. Finding a good breeding place, they dig a small hole in the ground and make a characteristic calling sound. The nest is built in tree trunks and cliffs.
The female lays 2 to 6 eggs once a year, usually in winter or early spring. Being so sensitive in their environment, if they do not have enough food, the laying can be delayed or reduced. The female incubates the eggs for 36 days while the male forages for food. When the chicks hatch, they have a white down that takes on the brown color of the parents after 10-12 days. The task of feeding and caring is the duty of the female, but the male can also participate in it from time to time.
When they are three weeks old, they can feed and swallow on their own. It is at two months when they begin to fly, but only a few meters. At four months they already have all their feathers. It is at this stage just when they are most vulnerable to predators, although their plumage helps them hide between the branches. At the end of the fall, the youngsters are expelled by the adults so that they begin their life in search of unoccupied territory.
The eagle owl is a super predator at the top of the food chain. Although they mainly eat small rodents, they also eat other small mammals such as rabbits, hares, squirrels, rats, pigeons, blackbirds, and hedgehogs. In some cases, they have been seen capturing a fawn weighing up to 10 kg. of weight. It does not usually hunt frogs or insects, but if food is scarce it becomes its target, along with fish It may even attack other carnivores, such as foxes, other owls, or birds of prey.
They usually hunt at night, preferring open spaces to forests. They have a silent flutter, coupled with night vision and incredible hearing acuity. Interestingly, his eyes do not move, but he moves his head almost three-quarters around each direction, without moving his body, to observe what is around.
Compared to other species of owls, it is highly valued as a pet bird and is widely used in falconry, as is the case with eagles and falcons. For this reason, it is highly valued, because it is an excellent hunter. However, some prefer it as a companion animal, since the view is very majestic. But its maintenance can be somewhat expensive, so keeping it as a pet is only intended for people on a large budget.
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