The largest owl in the owl family, eagle owl (Bubo bubo) belongs to the family of Strigidae and the order Strigiformes. The eagle owl is one of the least understood among nocturnal birds and has been the victim of ignorance for years. It has lost the major part of its range probably due to destruction of its nesting sites. Although it speaks high of its massive appearance and fearsome reputation yet it will long be remembered for its admirable look which makes it a rather treat to offer. However, despite its gigantic size among birds, the eagle owl is too shy and elusive and perhaps out of this they live in far wilderness areas where the human activity is too remote. Seldom do they visible in daylight despite the fact they have barrel-chested and fierce outlook.
- The weight of these owls is measured around 4 to 9 lbs, while the length measuring at 51 to 71 cm , and the wingspan averaging 4 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2 inches.
- They have extremely sensitive ears that can pick even the faintest of sounds within the distance of 30-feet. After that, it locates the precise position of its prey even in complete darkness.
- Eagle owls are capable to hunt prey as large as ducks and hares, and with the help of their powerful talons, they make their prey rather too helpless.
- They are almost entirely nocturnal in that they swoop on the avian predator in the extreme darkness which makes them barely noticeable to their quarry.
- Unlike other birds of prey, eagle owls may seem cannibalistic at times when they kill their youngest or perhaps weakest chick to devour it.
- During the daytime, eagle owls probably take rest and they don’t show themselves too often but at night which is why other birds can attack them in daylight hours.
- These owls make their presence feel to the nearby predators or even competitors by producing deep, mournful woo that carries for 3-miles within their territories.
- The eagle owl migrates only when the food is scarce in its range otherwise it is primarily sedentary and highly territorial. Those residing in the woodlands of Norway, are known to fly 120 miles to the coast to escape the cold.
- The young owls become independent one year after fledging.
- It is an active predator and it alerts its ears all the time to sense any nearby threat.
- It often surprises its prey with a silent-and-sudden attack that almost goes unnoticed at times. The soft bristly fringes in the flight feathers prevent the feathery noise just to ensure the flight is soundless.
- There is a flap of wing covering both ears which the owl raises when it aims to pick up the sound.
- They reach the maturity age after 2 to 3 years.
- The maximum number of eggs which the female lays is 6, but 2 or 3 are usual.
- The incubation period lasts for 34 – 36 days.
- The fledging period is 50 – 60 days.
- The breeding interval is one year.
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What Do Eagle Owls Eat | Eagle Owl Diet
They become active before dawn and after dusk. Soon after the sunset, it takes a silent flight to hunt its prey while waiting patiently on a tree. The bulk of the eagle owl’s diet is composed of voles though it also preys on larger animals such as hares, rabbits, grouse, and ducks. It feeds heavily on small rodents which is common among other owls too. It also takes on seabirds, geese, corvids, woodpeckers, and herons. They consume the whole prey by regurgitating the pellets comprising bones, hair, and even feathers. These mucous-covered pellets are not so easily digested by other birds. These birds, they find an adequate amount of food in the tracts of undisturbed land.
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Under the normal circumstances, eagle owls start breeding in the late winter. Instead of laying eggs in the nest, the eggs are laid on the rocky slopes and cliff edges. They begin incubating while the fresh snow still shows itself on the ground. The reason for this early breeding is not hard to find since by doing so the young will fledge in time to prey innocent animals. The females brood their young for two weeks once the hatching is finished. The young will fledge out in six-weeks period, in the mean time the male brings the food for these young.
How Long Do Eagle Owls Live?
The normal lifespan of eagle owls is 20 years in the wild.
Where Do Eagle Owls Live in the World | Eagle Owl Facts For Kids
Eagle owls inhabit all along the North Africa and Iberian Peninsula, ranging from Europe, Middle East while extending towards the Central Asia embracing China and India and as far as Siberia. Sadly speaking it is rarely found in much of its native range.
Eagle owls encroach most of its habitats ranging from northern coniferous forests, deserts, steppes, to the temperate woodlands. It fancy roosting and nesting on rocky terrain and on cliff edges. Though in a limited number, they are often sighted in grasslands, Taiga, and ravines which are dominated by trees bushes.