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Birds of Prey: The Eurasian Eagle Owl

Updated on August 20, 2017
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Bill has always had an interest in nature and in particular birds of prey. Learn about these majestic creatures that grace our skies.

The Eurasian Eagle Owl

The Eurasian Eagle Owl
The Eurasian Eagle Owl | Source

As the name implies, this large and beautiful species of owl is found across much of Europe and Asia. Also referred to as the European Eagle-Owl or just the Eagle-Owl, this large and powerful apex predator is similar in appearance to the great Horned Owl of North America.

Description

Considered one of the two largest species of owl in the world along with the Blakiston’s Fish Owl, the Eagle Owl is quite large and very powerful. Slightly smaller than the Golden Eagle, the Eagle Owl has an impressive wingspan that can reach up to six and a half feet. Their body length can range from 22 up to 30 inches and as with other birds of prey the female is larger than the male, by about one-third. While males can weigh up to six pounds a large female can reach nine pounds. This is one well built and bulky owl.

What a wingspan!
What a wingspan! | Source

The Eurasian Eagle Owl has a very similar look its North American Cousin the Great Horned Owl due to their ear tufts. They have large heads and their face feathers form a unique looking facial disk, which helps to channel sound to the ears. Their coloring will vary depending on the subspecies and location with various shades of brown, grey, black and off-white. They have a mostly white throat and chin, which extends down the middle of the upper breast. Their feet and bill are black and most of their legs are covered with feathers. They have large and powerful talons, which make for the perfect hunting tools. And those eyes, they have the most amazing orange eyes that give them a stunning appearance.

Beautiful Orange Eyes

Eurasian EagleOwl
Eurasian EagleOwl | Source

Habitat

The Eurasian Eagle Owl can be found in a variety of habitats but they prefer rocky areas with cliffs. They can be found throughout most of Europe and Asia as well as some areas of Africa on the fringes of the Sahara Desert. This hardy owl can adapt to many different habitats ranging from coniferous forests, deserts, river valleys, and even the northern areas of Siberia. They can be found at sea level up to mountainous elevations of over 10,000 feet.

While the Eurasian Eagle Owl does prefer remote areas where human interference is limited they have on occasion been known to nest in cities with Helsinki, Finland having five nesting pairs since 2005.

Slow motion video in flight

Feeding

The Eurasian Eagle Owl has a varied diet but feeds mainly on small mammals such as mice, voles, rats, rabbits and squirrels. They will also prey on other birds and even the occasional fox or small deer. Pretty much any prey that is not bigger than itself is a potential meal for the Eurasian Eagle Owl.

As with other owls the Eagle Owl swallows its food whole if possible including feathers, fur and bones. The materials that its body cannot digest are later regurgitated as pellets. If unable to swallow its prey whole it will use its powerful beak to tear its food apart.

What a beauty!
What a beauty! | Source

The Eurasian Eagle Owl, as with most other owl species is nocturnal and does most of its hunting at night. They can occasionally be found hunting in the early evening around dusk or in the early morning as the sun is rising. Their method of hunting usually consists of them watching for activity from a stationary perch for potential prey and then swiftly swooping down as a victim is spotted. As they have excellent eyesight and hearing they have no problem picking up any prey movement.

Once a meal is secured the owl will attempt to fly off with it to be consumed. If the prey is too large they will eat it on the ground but this makes them vulnerable to predators. As their feeding preferences are very similar to that of the Golden Eagle they will sometimes compete with each other for food, but given the different times of day that they hunt this does not happen often, which is a good thing for the Eurasian Eagle Owl as the Golden Eagle is larger and just as fierce.

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Eurasian Eagle Owl | Source

Breeding

The Eurasian Eagle Owl will generally nest on cliff ledges, cave entrances or in rocky crevices. They will occasionally use an abandoned nest of other birds and if no suitable site is available they will resort to nesting on the ground under a fallen tree or between rocks. They will often return to the nest in subsequent years as they are territorial.

A pair of Eagle Owls will very often mate for life, which is common among other species of owl and birds or prey. They will lay one clutch of one to four eggs per year, usually beginning in late winter. The eggs are laid not all at once but at three day intervals and the female does all of the incubating. During this time the male will hunt and bring food to the nest. The incubation period will last about 35 days and once hatched the owlets will be fed by the female for the first few weeks. After this time the young owls will start to feed themselves with the food brought to the nest by the male.

What amazing eyes
What amazing eyes | Source

At about five weeks the young owls will begin to walk around the nesting site and by seven weeks they can begin to take short flights. They will continue to be cared for by the parents for up to six months and once they have mastered the art of hunting they will leave or be driven off by the parent’s. This will normally happen in the September to November time frame. After about a year the young owl will reach its maturity but they generally do not start to breed until they are two to three years old and have established their own territory.

The life span of the Eurasian Eagle Owl is about twenty years in the wild. In captivity they can live up to sixty years. With no natural predators to worry about the leading cause of premature death is usually human related with traffic accidents, electrocution, pesticide use and shootings being the biggest culprits.

Brave young lady
Brave young lady | Source

Status

The Eurasian Eagle Owl is endangered in some areas, especially in Europe, but is currently listed as of Least Concern by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). There are a number of captive breeding programs that have been very successful in reintroducing this owl back into the wild. While their numbers have recovered somewhat in Europe they are still protected under the Conservation of European Wildlife Convention.

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Eurasian Eagle Owl | Source

Current estimates place the number of breeding pairs in Europe at about 25,000, which equates to about 100,000 individuals. Estimates for Asia and Africa are unknown but the worldwide population is thought to be at a minimum of 250,000. While this sounds like a healthy population, it is not, and their overall numbers have continued to trend downward.

I know I sound like a broken record but more must be done to ensure the long term survival of these amazing birds. Most of the large birds of prey around the world are considered an apex predator, which means they are at the top of their food chain and have no natural predators. We humans are the biggest obstacle that prevents these species from flourishing in their rapidly diminishing habitat.

Amazing slow motion video of Eurasian Eagle Owl

Interesting Facts on the Eurasian Eagle Owl

  • The Eurasian Eagle owl is one of the few owls that will ride on the thermal updrafts similar to hawks and vultures.
  • The Eurasian Eagle Owl is the largest owl in the world when taking into consideration its wingspan, which is up to six and a half feet.
  • The Eagle Owls eyes are fixed and as such do not move. To see from side to side the owl has to turn its head, which it can rotate almost 270 degrees around.
  • The Eagle Owl is actually far sighted. This is due to the configuration of their eyes that are set into the skull, which squeezes their eyeballs. This has a telescope effect on their eyesight. Just another reason for their amazing vision.
  • Did you know that there are about 205 different species of owl?
  • The ear tufts are neither ears nor tufts, but simply feathers that the owl can raise or lower depending on its mood. Raising them certainly gives this owl a more menacing appearance.
  • The scientific name of the Eurasian Eagle Owl is Bubo bubo.

© 2013 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Glimmer Twin. Those eyes are something! Lucky you to have an owl nearby but they sure can be tough to spot. I too would love to see one of these Eurasian Eagle Owls up close and personal, that wold be amazing. Thanks so much for stopping by and the share.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Just gorgeous Bill. I love their orange eyes and would love to be able to get close to one of these owls. We have a hoot owl in our back yard and when the windows are open I love hearing it hoot. Never seen it yet though. Beautiful hub, shared.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Tom. She sure does look like she's enjoying herself. Good for her. I too am amazed at the size of this Eurasian Eagle Owl. And I can't get over those eyes, just beautiful.

      Thanks for the visit, have a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Margaret. Aren't they amazing creatures? I just love learning more about them. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. Have a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Sheila. Thanks for the kind words. And thank you for adding them to your wildlife blog, much appreciated. yeah, I just love those videos also. I was going to put just one but then I found the second one and had to include it also. Thank you for the share, vote, pin, etc... Have a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mary. Thanks. To be honest I didn't know either. This particular owl sure is amazing. Not only large but very powerful as you mentioned. And those orange eyes.

      Thanks for the vote, share, etc. Have a great and dry weekend.

    • Tom Schumacher profile image

      Tom Schumacher 4 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

      Very interesting hub. I've come across a few owls in my days, and I've always been impressed at their beauty and in awe of their size, but I've never had the pleasure of seeing a Eurasian Eagle Owl in person. I can only imagine how much fun the "brave young lady" in the picture had in handling this magnificent bird of prey. Voted up!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      Wonderful hub, with great videos included. Owls are such awesome creatures. I'm enchanted by them. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Another awesome hub by you, Bill! I just love your "bird of prey" hubs, they are all so beautiful and interesting and this one is no exception! The first video is great, but the second one is just awesome! Great choice! Again, I would like to add a link to this on my wildlife blog. Wonderful job once again! Voting up, useful, interesting, awesome and pinning! Have a wonderful day! :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      No, I did not know there were so many species of owls! I thought there were only two, shows what I know.

      Bill, this is an amazing hub about amazing owl! Not just beautiful but powerful. You do such a great job on these hubs and the pictures and videos you find are, well, breathtaking! You put a lot of work into these hubs and they show it, you're the Bird Man of Hub Pages!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi there las81071. Aren't they beautiful with those orange eyes? What an amazing creature. Thanks for the visit, have a great day.

    • las81071 profile image

      las81071 4 years ago

      wow what an interesting creature. Beautiful...

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you about the offer. I will let you know when I will publish the hub.... probalby this fall!

      Enjoy your Sunday!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Joelle. They are beautiful aren't they? Would love to see a Hub on your 3D owl models, how creative of you. Likewise when you get it done I'll add a link here for you. What fascinating creatures! Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi DDE. Lucky you to have see this beautiful owl. Here in the United States I have seen its cousin the Great Horned Owl but they are not as large as the Eurasian Eagle Owl. A most impressive bird. Thanks for the visit.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great hub about the European eagle owl! They are so beautiful those birds and so unique with their head! I created several owls in 3D and painted them because they just fascinated me. I will have to write a hub about them and when I will do it, I will link it toward your hub for sure! I already made a note to myself!

      Great choice of pictures! Thank you for sharing!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Incredible photos and the wingspan is awesome, I have seen this owl in Europe most impressive of the way it flies off and in catching its prey from the ground

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Good morning Pam. This particular species of owl is considered one of the largest in the world. Their wingspan rivals that of many large eagles. Those slow motion videos are incredible. It's amazing what you can find on YouTube these days. Thanks for the vote and share, have a great day down there in Florida.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi rajan. With their size they are capable of hunting larger mammals and while a fox or small deer may not be a regular part of their diet they have been known to take on these larger mammals. With that 6 foot wingspan and those large talons, having this guy coming toward you would be a scary thought.

      Many thanks for the vote, share, etc. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi ladybluewriter. Thanks for reading about the Eurasian Eagle Owl, I find them fascinating also. With those ear tufts and orange eyes this particular species is just beautiful. Thanks you for sharing, have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi CMHypno. Thank you for visiting to read about the Eurasian Eagle Owl. They really are magnificent. It's such a shame that many of these beautiful birds of prey are endangered. Certainly more can be done to protect their habitat. Have a great day

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Phyllis. Thank you for the nice comments, glad you enjoyed learning about the Eurasian Eagle Owl. I love those slow motion video's also, just amazing. Thanks again, have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Alicia. Those eyes are just incredible. As soon as I saw them I knew I was going to write a Hub about this owl. Thanks so much for the visit and share. Have a great Sunday.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Suzie. I think I spend more time looking for just the right photos as I do actually writing the Hub. The photo of the young girl is certainly my favorite. I just love the orange eyes on this owl, amazing. Thank you for the vote, share, pin. Have a great day.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      I did not realize any owls were this large. That slow motion sly is awesome. They are really beautiful birds and your hub is very interesting. Voted up, awesome and shared.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Hi Bill,

      The Eurasian Eagle owl does look menacing in that top picture and that wing span is awesome and can give a lot of power given its size.

      A very interesting read and I'm surprised to read they hunt fox and small deer as well.

      voted up, interesting and shared.

    • ladybluewriter profile image

      ladybluewriter 4 years ago from United States

      This is truly a unique and wonderful hub. Owls have always captured my attention and I will definitely share this article with those that like owls. Keep up the good writing.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 4 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Thanks for all the great information on the European eagle owl. They are magnificent birds, and I agree with you that we need to do everything we can to conserve their habitat and try and grow their numbers

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      This owl is truly stunning in appearance and a powerful predator. Your choice of photos and videos are fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this well-written and interesting hub and will be following you to read more about 'birds of prey'.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The photos are beautiful and the videos are wonderful, Bill! This is a very interesting hub about a magnificent bird. I love the orange eyes! I'll share this hub.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      What another stunning bird! Everytime you launch a new article in this series I think I have my favorite bird of prey and then another one to rock the boat! What I always love are your selected pics to go with your wonderful writing about these birds, this is another gorgeous selection. Loved the photo of the young girl too as Bill mentioned.

      Great job as always, votes, shared the love and pinned!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Bill. Every time I write about another one of these beautiful birds I become more and more amazed at their size and beauty. That's one brave young lady. Have a great weekend, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That is a serious wing span, isn't it? that picture with the little girl is amazing....look at how calm she is...I'm pretty sure I'd be a bit more nervous with that big thing flapping its wings next to me.

      Great information and I'm with Carol...I love these hubs.

      Have a great weekend, Bill.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Carol. Thanks so much. I do enjoy learning about these amazing creatures. I still can't get over the beautiful eyes that this owl has. When I don't have photos of my own, which is often the case with birds found in other parts of the world, I search high and low to find quality pictures that do the hub and the bird justice. Nice to see you here this morning, have a great weekend.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      What I always enjoy about your hubs are the selected photos and the careful writing. learning new things is also part of that equation. Thanks for sharing about these birds...Voting up and pinning.