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Animal Data > Ural Owl

(Strix uralensis)

Status Distribution Sexually Mature
Not listed as threatened Europe and Asia. Mainly woodland -old coniferous or mixed. Also found in heath forest and spruce bogs -
Number of Young Gestation Life Span
4 28 days 30 years

Most birds have a crop - a small sac of skin, inside the throat, used for storing food. Owls are unusual in that they are the only birds that do not have a crop. They are carnivores and eat all parts of their prey. Anything that cannot be digested, such as bones and fur, is regurgitated in the form of a pellet. This pellet can be dissected to reveal what the owl last had to eat.

Owls also have very good vision, with both eyes on the front of the face. This gives three-dimensional vision and allows the birds to judge distances accurately. Contrary to popular belief, owls cannot turn their heads all the way round (through 360°). They do, however, have long, flexible necks, which mean the head can be rotated through 270° - almost all the way round!

The Ural owl is not completely nocturnal. It hunts a range of animals, mainly small mammals, also hares and game birds. This range of prey allows it to remain in its territory throughout the year.

Ural owls commonly nest in tree hollows and occasionally tree stumps. The Ural owl population in N. Europe has recently increased, producing change and variety in the owls’ choice of nest sites and habitats. They used to nest far from human habitation in old coniferous or mixed forest. In 1950, nests were found in buildings and holes near houses in Finland. In the last 30 - 40 years they have been commonly found in damp heath forest.

Main Features

Large round head, no ear tufts. Facial disc forms almost pure circle. Has darkeyes. Greyish white to brownish white plumage, boldly streaked with dark brown.

In Captivity

At Marwell, the owls are fed mostly chicks and mice, occasionally rabbit, rat, or quail.

The aviaries are high, as owls tend to fly up, and the roof is covered with soft netting. Owls are hardy and do not require much extra care. They breed well in captivity, using nest boxes that are open at the front. Marwell’s owls are part of a British breeding programme.

©2009 Marwell Wildlife