Saturday, 19 January 2008

Special birds: Ural Owl

Ural Owl Strix uralensis is a species that most birders visiting Eastern Europe want to see. It inhabits woodlands and forests throughout the region but some countries are certainly better than others as destinations in which to see it. Estonia, Poland, eastern Slovakia and north-east Hungary are often good, though numbers can flucuate. In some years Ural Owls are easy to find, in others notoriously difficult. Much seems to depend upon the annual population of small mammals. The easiest way to see Ural Owl is to hire a guide who knows the locations of occupied nest-boxes. Finding your own Ural Owl can take time and often a dose of luck. The best periods to try are early spring (March to May) when birds are calling, or winter (November to February) when some owls come out of the forest into more open country to hunt by day.

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