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Photographing The Ural Owl

Here are some top tips and information for finding and photographing the ural Owl.

| Arena D+ 10x50 B in Animals / Wildlife

Photographing The Ural Owl: Ural owl


With its wingspan of 115 to 125 centimeters, the ural owl is the largest owl in Central Europe. Females are generally larger and stronger than males. Both have a surprisingly long tail and a heart-shaped facial disc. The border of this heart shape mostly consists of small blackish spots highlighting the gray-brown face of the ural owl. A long dark line is visible between the brown eyes, just above the yellow beak.

In general, the feathering is gray but some specimens can have a darker plumage. In flight, the ural owl can be mistaken with the northern goshawk. This is due to its spotted belly and the black and white barred feathers on its tail and wings.




The ural owl can be found in a large belt, which starts from Scandinavia, passes through Russia and Asia and extends to the Pacific. In countries like Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria, there are still lots of small groups. In Germany, the ural owl has been reintroduced into the Bavarian Forest. The ural owl is also being gradually reintroduced into the Austrian reserves and the forests of Vienna. Ural owls are birds of the woods. However, the trees should not be too tightly spaced. Fortunately, there are still deciduous and mixed forests with clearings in Scandinavia and Russia where these large birds feel at their ease.

They also enjoy calm waters, as well as open meadows and nearby fields. The ural owls nest in tree cavities, birdhouses or even in larger birds old nests. They don’t build nests of their own and rely on what is available.




Photographing tips

Ural owls mostly feed on voles. The bird usually seeks a perch to spot and hunt rodents. If a mouse is in sight, the owl dives and kills it often brutally. While it feeds mainly on small rodents, it also hunts large insects, small mammals and sometimes fish and amphibians. Outside the breeding season, the ural owls become active at dusk and can hunt until midnight. During the breeding season hunting can last until morning. Despite being mostly active during night-time, the ural owls also enjoy sunbathing. When it rains lightly, they spread their plumage for a quick bath.

In January, the ural owl’s courtship ritual begins. Although monogamous, partners behave very aggressively outside of the breeding season. They live generally far from one another and must get used to each other every year. Most of the time, males start by calling the females to show them the chosen nest. They then spend more and more time together, sharing the food and preparing the nest for the egg laying.

Once the eggs have hatched, the male feeds his female and their offspring. Merely five weeks later, the chicks leave the nest and find shelter on a nearby branch. They are still cared for and fed by their parents for another 60 days, until they can make their own living.


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