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Eagle-Owl, Eurasian

Eurasian Eagle Owl at the LA Zoo Photo Credit Jamie Pham

Scientific Name: Bubo bubo

The Eurasian eagle-owl is the largest owl in the world. The adults of this breed have no predators of their own; therefore, they are known as apex predators due to their top position on their local food chain.

Communicating Camouflage

The great ear tufts of an owl may seem like they would be great amplifiers for hearing, but actually they do nothing of the sort. In fact, these tufts may play a major role in both communication as well as camouflage in the owl’s natural environment. By erecting these tuft feathers, the owl may become visible to other owls in the dense, forested woodlands that typically make up its home, therefore allowing owls in the same family to find one another even in this thick habitat. These tufts, when standing straight up, will also increase the size of the owl and make it seem more formidable to possible predators.

These tufts may also be used as a method of camouflage for the owl. By erecting its ear tufts, particularly during sleep, the owl is able to break the lines that naturally define its body shape and may even give it the same contours and relative appearance of the bark on a nearby tree, therefore hiding the owl from sight. The peculiarity of these tufts, in their function of both communicating and concealing a position, still does not hide the unusual fact that these ear tufts have no function for hearing.

The Eurasian eagle-owl is listed as of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This owl makes its home in a variety of habitats including deserts, woodlands, hills, and rocky cliffs in Asia and Europe.

This species typically feeds on small mammals such as rats, hares, and mice; however, it is also known to kill larger prey such as foxes and even small deer.

The Eurasian eagle-owl is the largest owl species in the world. Its typical length ranges between 2 to 2.5 feet, their wingspan is between 4.5 to 6.5 feet, and their average weight is anywhere from 3 to 10 pounds, with females being slightly bigger than males. This owl is typically brown in color with dense speckles littered along its head and heck, with underparts that are a more pale ground color. The males of this species tend to have larger, more erect ear tufts than the females, which are typically brown with small hints of white. This bird is distinguishable from other owl species by the orange color of their iris, and eye-popping contrast to the darker colors of its feather patterns. The normal lifespan of this bird is 20 years in the wild and when in captivity, this number can increase to about 60 years.

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