Eagle owl (Bubo bubo)
The biggest of the Iberian owls, with a height of 60 to 70 cm and 1.5 – 2.5 kg weight, has a wingspread of 180 cm. They have some sexual dimorphism, with females a bit bigger than males. It highlights their orange eyes and the presence of large plumes of feathers. The plumage is in brown tones.
They have feathered tarsus and toes, and both bill and the nails are black. The down lining of chicks is whitish in a first step, moving then to gray-brown.
Its size makes it unmistakable with any other species.
Two subspecies have been described in Europe:
B.b.bubo: across Europe to the Pyrenees.
B.b.hispanicus: in the Iberian Peninsula.
Its typical habitats are rocky areas, cliffs, canyons, river cutting, etc. in looking for a small hollow for egg laying, although often breeds in more accessible locations like the soil or at the foot of a tree.
Status and distribution
In the Iberian Peninsula lives Bubo bubo hispanicus (ojo! en la web pone “hispanus”), smaller than the typical subspecies, distributed by the rest of Europe.
Distributed by almost all of the Iberian Peninsula, becoming scarcer in the northern strip and missing in the islands. Resident.
The Eagle Owl is strongly territorial. The average size of the territory is very variable, surely related to prey density, but it always covers several kilometers. Marking the territory is done by singing from perches that delimit it.
They tend to form stable couples that keep together throughout the year.
It is a super-predator, capturing many preys, depending on the abundance and accessibility of these. On the Peninsula, this raptor is closely associated to the rabbit but where this is lacking, it can be replaced by other more abundant mammals such as voles and rats. It also captures medium-sized birds (including other raptors), snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, crabs and beetles.
Courtship and marking of territory begins approximately in November – December, extending the songs up until the beginning of the year. They do not build nests, laying eggs usually in February – April, commonly 3 eggs with differences of 2-4 days between them. The chicks leave the nest at 28-35 days, they cannot fly yet, and parents keep feeding them for some time. At 60 days they are finally able to fly.
Estatus de conservación
(National Catalogue of Threatened Species.)
Of special interest
“Rare” in the Red Book of vertebrates in Spain in 1992, but it was discontinued of this book in 2004 due to the improvement of populations.