DescriptionThe Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle owl that lives across Europe and Asia (almost all of it). It is sometimes called the European eagle-owl. The Eurasian eagle-owl is a very large and powerful predatir, smaller than the golden eagle but larger than the snowy owl. It is sometimes referred to as the world's largest owl, although Blakiston's fish owl is slightly heavier and the great grey owl is slightly longer. The Eurasian eagle-owl has a wingspan of up to 2 meters! Females weigh up to 4.2 kg and males weigh up to 3 kg; in comparison, the barn owl, the world's most widely-distributed owl species, weighs on average 500 grams. The largest subspecies is Bubo bubo yenisseenis of the icy forests of central Siberia to northern Mongolia at. Many subspecies still require detailed description and study. Two owls formerly considered subspecies of the Eurasian eagle owl are now recognized as distinct species: the pharaoh eagle-owl and the rock eagle-owl.
Eurasian eagle-owls are distributed sparsely through rocky areas but can inhabit northern coniferous forests all the way to the edges of vast deserts. They are often found where cliffs and ravines are surrounded by a scattering of trees and bushes. Taiga, rocky coast lines, steppe and grasslands, may also be visited, largely while hunting. Due to their preference for rocky areas, the species is often found in mountainous areas and can be found up to elevations of 2,000 m in Europe and 4,500 m in Asia. However, they can also be found at sea level. Overall they are very adaptable large birds of prey. Farmland is sometimes inhabited and they even have been observed living in park-like settings within European cities. Since 2005, at least five couples have nested in Helsinki due in part to feral European rabbits that have multiplied from pet rabbits released into the wild.
The Eurasian eagle-owl mainly eats small mammals up to 2 kg, such as voles, rats, mice, rabbits, and hares. However, it is known to kill and eat fully-grown foxes, marmots, and young deer! In central Europe, hedgehogs are often a favorite prey item, being eaten after the owl skins off their prickily backs. These intelligent birds may habitually visit garbage dumps to eat rats. Almost all other birds are on the menu as well: common avian prey includes corvids, grouse, woodpeckers, herons, ducks, seabirds, and geese. Other raptors, even the largest northern goshawks, Peregrine falcons, and the largest buzzards are regularly killed by this dominating owl species, as well as almost any other type of owl encountered. When there is an opportunity, they will also prey on reptiles, including large and venomous snakes, frogs, fish, large insects, and earthworms! It is easy to realize why this owl is not in an danger of going extinct, as it is the polar opposite of picky eater species such as pandas!