American horned owls and Eurasian eagle-owls compose the genus Bubo. More than twenty species from all around the world make up this genus. Horned owls are the biggest owls in the world. In Mundomar you will be able to see both horned owls and eagle-owls.
Snowy owls or Bubo scandiacus are a bird species of the owl family Strigidae. In America they are also known as Arctic owls or great white owls.
These golden-eyed birds are 20-28 in long and 50-60 in wingspan. Adult males are virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping. The young are heavily barred, and dark spotting may even predominate. Their thick plumage, heavily-feathered taloned feet, and colours render snowy owls well-adapted for life at the north of the Arctic Circle.
The most striking feature of these owls is their white plumage, which helps them camouflage in the environment they live in. Contrary to other owl species in which males and females are almost the same colour, snowy owl females present some brown strips while males are pure white.
Habitat and behaviour
They can only be seen in the tundra. As in the case of all tundra hunters, their movements depend on the climate’s severity and the availability of food. They move to the South with other migratory birds when the drop in temperatures is unbearable.
They feed on a wide range of food, including small birds and fish. However, the base of their diet is made of hares and ― above all ― lemmings. Lemmings have become a natural larder for all carnivores in the sub-Arctic regions. These animals depend on lemmings that much that, in years when there is a high population of lemmings, hunter animals have larger litters, a greater number of chicks survive and carnivores multiply in the tundra. In parallel to this outburst of resources, snowy owls start laying and fitting out an austere nest. Females lay a variable number of eggs directly on the floor and they start incubating. Four or five weeks later, the eggs hatch and the female keeps on covering their chicks during a month to protect them from the freezing temperatures. During this period, they feed on the prey captured by males.
Did you know that...?
Owl’s calls vary. The female call is smoother. They use their call or flap their wings to make sound when they feel attacked.
Eagle-owls or Bubo bubo are big nocturnal birds of prey spread all over Europe, Asia and Africa. They are more common in northeastern Europe and in the Mediterranean area, including the Iberian Peninsula. In Latin, they are named after the sound they emit.
They are up to 30 in long, up to 79 in wingspan and up to 7 lbs weight. They are slightly smaller than golden eagles, but even so they are the biggest owls in the owl family. Despite of their enormous size, a lot of other birds ― not only prey birds ― attack them in the daylight, such us crows. They are known for the feathers they have in both sides of their heads, the V-shaped line between their orange-irised eyes, their pale stripped abdomen and their dark speckled back with light-coloured patches. The feathers in their ears stand on end in males and not that much in females.
They fly powerfully and usually glide. They emit deep howling that can be heard more than 1 mile around. Each individual has a specific howling, so they can be easily identified. They can also emit alarm calls similar to fox barking.
Habitat and behaviour
Eagle-owls can be seen in a wide range of habitats going from semi-desert areas to temperate woods, steppes and even in the tundra. Even when human activities made their population decrease in the mid-20th century and obliged them to live in mountain areas only, they are now proliferating and occupying their former territories. They usually nest in rocky areas located at sea level or over 6500 feet above sea level. They may use old nests already built by other prey birds such us common buzzards or northern goshawks. In certain areas where the density of species is very high, they can even nest directly on the floor.
They are territory animals. They use several marking systems to demarcate their territories and indicate their occupation, such us territory calls or rock marking. The area occupied by each couple varies accordingly to the availability of prey.
Did you know that...?
Eagle-owls hunt during the night and prefer open spaces to forests to do so. The flapping of their wings is really silent. Thanks to their night vision and their hearing sharpness they are known to be exceptional hunters.
They live for 20 years because they do not have natural predators. In captivity, they can live for up to 60 years.
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