Ural owls are large grey and white owls. These colors occur in vertical streaks running down the body. Around the face is a mask of plain, pale feathers with a pair of black eyes and a small, yellow beak at the center.
The legs and feet are covered by white feathers. These end with yellowish brown claws with dark tips.
They have a long tail which helps them to navigate when flying at night.
An average Ural owl will measure between 50 and 60cm (19.7-23.6in) long with a weight between 550 and 1200g (19.4-42.3oz). Their wingspan is between 110 and 130cm (43.3-51.2in) long. Females tend to be larger in size than the males.
They are an important contributor to helping control rodent populations. Each year a pair may consume as many as 4000 mice.
Ural owls are found throughout Europe and Asia. Here they live in the following countries – Albania; Austria; Belarus; Bulgaria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; China; Croatia; Czechia; Estonia; Finland; Germany; Hungary; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Republic of Korea; Latvia; Lithuania; Mongolia; Montenegro; Moldova; North Macedonia; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Russia; Serbia; Spain; Slovakia; Slovenia; Sweden and Ukraine.
They make their home in coniferous and mixed forests along with woodland. They may also occur in wooded fields and around beaches.
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Pairs of Ural owls are monogamous and will mate for life. They will strengthen their bond a month before the nesting period by calling.
Males will court the female by presenting food to her and performing wing and body movements.
Nests are built in broken trunks or they may take over the nest of another bird. Humans may provide artificial nest boxes which they use as well. Pairs will work to defend their nest and are know to be aggressive in achieving this.
In to this nest a female will deposit between 2 and 6 eggs during March or April which are colored white. The eggs are incubated for 28-29 days by the female alone with the male bringing her food.
Hatchlings have white down and are brooded for the first two weeks once again by the female alone. Chicks take their first flight between 5 and 6 weeks old. The chicks receive care for another 3 to 4 weeks.
Sexual maturity is reached at a year old.
Their primary vocalization sounds like a dog's bark.
These birds are nocturnal with most of their hunting occurring at night. These birds are not particularly active and as such do not move around much during the day.
They have great hearing which allows them to locate food which is buried under the snow.
Predators and Threats
Their main method of avoiding a threat is to freeze. If this does not work they will spread out their wings to try and look larger and more scary.
Forestry management which removes trees with hollows will take away potential nesting sites for the Ural owl.
Yana Dombrovskaya, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Yerpo, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Jens Freitag, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Serge Serebro, Vitebsk Popular News, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Christiansen, P., 2019. Birds. London: Amber Books Ltd.
Paigntonzoo.org.uk. 2021. Ural Owl | Paignton Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/animals-plants/animals/details/ural-owl> [Accessed 7 May 2021].
BirdLife International. 2016. Strix uralensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22689108A93218506. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22689108A93218506.en. Downloaded on 07 May 2021.
RanuaZoo. 2021. Ural owl – RanuaZoo. [online] Available at: <https://english.ranuazoo.com/animals/viirupollo/#:~:text=SIZE%3A%20Weight%3A%20450%2D1020g,to%2024%20years%20of%20age.> [Accessed 7 May 2021].
Genomics.senescence.info. 2021. Ural owl (Strix uralensis) longevity, ageing, and life history. [online] Available at: <https://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Strix_uralensis> [Accessed 7 May 2021].