Full description:

 

Ural owl (Strix uralensis)
        

 

Name origin:  

 

 

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


Characteristics:

 
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.)
Artvergleich

 

Size:

 

 

55-60 cm

 

Wingspan:

 

 

Male:     115 cm
Female: 125 cm

 

Weight:

 

 

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

 

Distribution:

 

 

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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Habitat:

 

 

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:

 

 

Monogamy

 

Breeding site:

 

 

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

Clutch:

 

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)

Age:

 

max. 25 years in captivity

Dangers:

 
  • 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)

 

Protection:

 

 

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.