Full description:


Ural owl (Strix uralensis)


Name origin:  



Pronounced crossbands on tail and wings broadly similar to those of a young hawk.


Typical features are: 
  • relatively small black-brown eyes
  • a horn yellow beak with a dark median stripe right over it
  • a strongly marked, bright facial disc with fine and dark radiant dashes at the edge
  • long, wedge-shaped rounded tail
  • rough breast feathers with dark lenghtways stripes (and no crossbands! → cf. tawny owl)

 Possibility of confusion! Ural owl (l.) and tawny owl (r.)





55-60 cm





Male:     115 cm
Female: 125 cm





Male:     540–730 g
Female: 720–1200 g





Northern Europe: Scandinavia, Baltic states
Southeastern Europe: Italy, Slovenia, Hungary plus Carpathian arc
Successful reintroduction in Germany and Czech Republic;
Austria: only sporadic occurrences at present


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Old-growth, sparse forests (deciduous trees: beech, oak, ...) with a high density of small mammals as well as wooded landscapes with mosaic-like interspersed, extensively used grasslands


Mode of life:



Active at twilight and night (during rearing the offspring and in winter diurnal too)

Hunting strategy:


Ambush predator; most often it locates its prey acoustically and glides just above the ground right up to the prey (The Ural owl locates preys under a snow cover as thick as 20-30 cm!)


Prey spectrum:



Small mammals: primarily voles and wood mice, dormice. Less often birds, amphibians and insects

Song activity:


During mating season from dusk onwards for about 2 hours and also in the early morning before sunrise


Mating system:





Breeding site:



Nest in tree holes, hollowed tree stumps and partly in aeries. Readily accept nesting boxes



Egg deposition takes place in March and April, whereby 2-3 (max. 6) eggs are laid

Incubation period:


27-29 days; female defends breeding site and the young at the breeding site


Nestling period:



34-35 days, whereas during this time only the male is responsible for feeding the family. After leaving the nest, the young are being fed by the parents for another 2 months

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Sexual maturity:




After the first year of life (~ 10 months)

Home range size:



~ 3-5 km2 (equal to 300-500 soccer fields or 2x2 km)



max. 25 years in captivity


  • road traffic (hunting flight just above the ground!)
  • power lines and fences (collisions lead to inability to fly)
  • illegal shooting (Ural owls are rather trusting and only flee when the observer comes up to within a few metres)





The Ural owl is placed under strict protection in Austria and throughout Europe. In Austria, it is protected all-year by shooting law and by the Nature Conservation Act, respectively. The EU Birds Directive lists the species in Annex I, i.e. special measures are required for the species´ conservation.