Species group: Owls
Other common names: Eurasian Eagle Owl
Scientific name: Bubo bubo
The impressive Eurasian Eagle-Owl is one of the world's largest owls-- and probably one of the longest-lived. Although its strength, size, and diet make it an expert's bird, this Eagle-Owl is not an uncommon aviary owl in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. They can be bred fairly easily in captivity by experts with the time, space, and experience for the project.
This adaptable species is widespread across Europe and Asia, and it seems to do well both in lonely rocky regions and fairly urban towns, as long as humans protect and respect it instead of persecuting it. Because of its huge wingspan, a common cause of death is electrocution on utility wires.
A huge and impressive giant owl complete with ear tufts and blood-orange eyes. There are a number of subspecies, with some substantial variation in size, but the females tend to be bigger than the males. Although there is endless debate on which owl is truly the biggest, there's a good argument to be made that a large female Eurasian Eagle-Owl could be ranked the largest owl in the world.
Females: 1,750 - 4,600 grams (4 - 10 lbs.)
Males: 1,200 - 3,200 grams (2.7 - 7 lbs.)
56 - 75 centimeters (22 - 30 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
The Eurasian Eagle-Owl can be considered a true nocturnal hunter, but in many areas it may be most active at dusk and dawn. In the extreme north, where there is little or no darkness in summer, this adaptable species can hunt by daylight.
An imprinted Eurasian Eagle-Owl with no fear of humans, or any Eagle-Owl improperly handled, can become a serious danger in the wrong hands. These birds can crush a fox's skull or instantly remove your finger. They are predators who must be respected for their size, strength, and fearlessness. They are not a pet to be taken home and cuddled because you were captivated by the striking orange-red eyes.
The Eurasian Eagle-Owl has developed something of a reputation as an escape artist in the United Kingdom, and many captive-bred birds have managed to escape into the wild over the years. Don't underestimate these birds. A falconry bird should be flown regularly, but the aviary still needs to be spacious to allow for the wide wingspan of this species.
The Eurasian Eagle-Owl is a carnivore which must swallow its food whole and then cough up pellets of indigestible items like bones and feathers afterward. Feeding this bird the food its body needs to survive is not a cheap or easy enterprise. In the wild, they usually prefer mammals--with the backbone of the diet being rabbit and hare but with the ability to take items as large as young deer. You will need to have a reliable source of whole food items like feeder hares and rabbits. They also need clean water for drinking and bathing.
Written by Elaine Radford