Blakistons Fish Owl
Blakistons Fish Owl(Bubo blakistoni)(Ketupa blakistoni).
The Blakistons Fish Owl is a subspecies of the Eagle Owl and part of the family called typical owls (Strigidae).
They are the largest species of owl growing to up to 71cm in length in the males and females. However the females are actually a bigger bird and weigh in at 9.9lbs a weightier 25% more than the 8.3lbs in a mature male. Both males and females have wingspans reaching 150-205cm.
They are similar in looks to the Eurasian Eagle Owl, but are in fact paler and have more ragged and broader ear tufts Their upper plumage is a buff-brown and heavily streaked, lower plumage paler and they have a white throat. Their irises are yellow and their bills are grey with a yellowish tip.
When calling to each other on the Islands the male will hoot twice and the female reply with one hoot. On the mainland they each call with four hoots and it almost becomes a duet, so much so that people who are fortunate enough to hear them think it is only one owl. The juveniles have a shriek rather than a hoot.
Habitat And Range.
Blakistons Fish owls live in a range that extends to 2,870,000 kms squared. This area runs covers coastal mountain ranges of eastern Siberia, Hokkaido, Japan and northeast China. Considering the size of their range the birds numbers are declining for reasons I will state further on. Their habitat is the Riparian forests(Riparian areas are those between land and a river or stream,i.e a riverbank) , where they use large ,old trees for nesting, often near lakes or spring shoals or rivers. This is because flowing water is less likely to freeze up in the bitter winter months. here when hunting they will spend a lot of time on the ground even leaving trails on riverbanks, and will wade int the shallows to catch their prey. They mainly eat fish , but also like small mammals, small birds, amphibians, insects and crustaceans.
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Breeding, Numbers, and Threats to the Blakistons Fish Owl.
These handsome bird mate for life and they live within their own distinct territories They start reconstructing their nests in late February in the hollows of large trees and here the female lays here clutch of 2 eggs. She is the one who incubates them whilst her mate feeds and protects her. After 35 days the chicks hatch and they will then remain with their parents for a further year and a half.
The Balkistons Fish owl is Endangered and its numbers are appalling low considering the range it has. In Russia there is the worst decline, whilst in China not so bad, but thankfully on the island of Hokkaido there are around 30 mature pairs remaining. This is the biggest single population and here on this island the birds diet is supplemented with artificial feeding and artificial nest sites have been built to try to aid their recovery.
Although they are legally protected in all their ranges they still face a number of threats including being shot , particularly in the Russian forestland where they live. Other threat to their numbers include, logging, transforming forest to farmland, development on riverbanks and dam -building.There is also over-harvesting of fish and on fish-farms the owls can get caught in the nets and drown. Another problem with their numbers particularly on Hokkaido is the power lines and traffic there. Sadly the owls do collide with both causing death or severe injury to themselves.