Rare animals of Belarus. Red book eagle owl spotted in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

One of the main factors that contributes to the extinction of animals and plants on the planet is negative impact of human activity to its environment.

Over the past 100 years, the fauna of our country has lost about 10 species of animals, including muskrat, wolverine, bustard. The list of the Red Book of Belarus includes more than 200 rare and endangered species of animals, birds, fish, mollusks and insects. Among them were ptarmigan, white-tailed eagle, common eagle owl, marsh turtle, copperhead, brook trout and others. brothers. Otherwise, our children will soon see the latter only in photos and videos on the Internet.

For this reason, the joyful feeling after reading the following news from the domestic news agency is quite understandable. Learned.

Last November in the national park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" A rare bird species has been discovered common eagle owl (Bubo bubo), which is the largest representative of the owl family. Since 1981, he has been listed in Red Book of Belarus under the second category of national conservation importance. Currently, the Belarusian population of the eagle owl has 400-500 pairs. This is only 4% of the population of this species in Europe.

Mysterious inhabitant of the night forest

Since ancient times, eagle owls have attracted people with their unusual appearance, habits and nocturnal lifestyle, which have not yet been fully studied by zoologists.

The habitat for this mysterious bird is a variety of landscapes: forests, mountains, steppes, river valleys and swamps. The choice of nesting site is often determined by the food base of the area.

A distinctive feature of the eagle owl is the so-called "ears", formed by bunches of feathers directed to the sides. The growth of this representative of the owl family with a weight of 3 kg is up to 58-78 cm in length, and its wingspan sometimes reaches up to 2 m.

The eagle owl has a rather powerful voice and a diverse sound repertoire, represented by a low two-syllable hoot, which in calm weather spreads 2-4 km around. Usually it is the mating song of the male, although females can make similar sounds, only lower ones. A quick energetic laughter of 4-5 syllables indicates that the eagle owl is worried about something. Also, birds can “cry” and “buzz”.

A pair of eagle owls remains faithful to each other all their lives, and always returns to the same nesting place to breed offspring. At this time, feathered parents are distinguished by their desperate courage, with which they attack any stranger, including humans.

The nest of an eagle owl is a small hole that the female tramples in the ground in a forest or moss swamp. In March or a little later, 2-4 eggs appear in it, which the female incubates for about a month. For 3 weeks, the mother feeds the owls with the prey brought by the father, tearing it into pieces, then begins to hunt herself, leaving the chicks alone. At 7 weeks, small eagle owls leave the nest, but are nearby, because they still do not know how to fly, and their parents continue to feed them. Eagle owls take to the wings at 9 weeks, and at 20 weeks of age they fly out on their first hunt.

Like all predatory owls, the common owl goes in search of prey at night. In this he is helped by unusually sharp hearing and vision. The bird feeds mainly on small rodents, but likes to diversify its menu with small birds, hares, foxes and even roe deer cubs. Cases of attacks by these predators on domestic cats and dogs have also been recorded.

The eagle owl strikes its deadly blow from above, silently flying up to the victim, after which it plunges sharp claws into it and tears it on the spot if the prey is small. The big one is taken to a secluded place. To frighten off sleeping birds, the predator loudly flaps its wings and snaps its beak, waiting for the frightened prey to flutter from its familiar place. And as a real robber, the eagle owl does not disdain ruining other people's nests and eating the chicks in them. With the onset of dawn, the night hunter hides in a spacious hollow or on a thick bough, securely hidden from prying eyes. Camouflage plumage helps him to disguise himself.

Under natural conditions, adult owls have practically no enemies, and the only danger for him is a person with his economic activities and poaching. Quite often, birds die when they collide with power lines or after eating rodents living in fields treated with chemicals. Also, these nocturnal predators are shot to obtain internal organs, claws and feathers, which are used in alternative medicine.

Meanwhile, the eagle owl is a very useful bird, because it destroys rodents, and is also a forest orderly, reducing the number of sick animals.

Interesting Facts:

  • Since ancient times, people have associated various unkind superstitions with owls. So, for example, it was considered a bad sign if this bird sat on the roof of the house. It was not otherwise that the news of the imminent death of one of the relatives was brought;
  • the eagle owl has a special anatomical structure of the head, thanks to which it can rotate this very head by 200 degrees;
  • with age, the irises of the eyes of birds change their color. When young, they are light yellow, and as they age, they become dark orange.

Text: Karna Kruchina