Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giant Owls Invade Albuquerque

In one of my postings earlier this year, I covered a couple of reports on the Mothman phenomenon in the Eastern USA.  On the observations and a comparable out of England I suggested we were looking at a giant owl that may be native to Europe rather than the Eastern Seaboard.  Other observations elsewhere did not conform to the owl hypothesis at all and were likely of a different critter.

Now we have a likely pair of giant owls setting up house in the surrounds of Albuquerque.

It is thus easy to surmise that the improved northern climate has encouraged the Eurasian Eagle Owl to migrate over to North America.  It should actually be no surprise as there is plenty of their target prey available.  My guess is that they may well have existed in the Americas in the past but then got hunted out quite easily by either the natives for feathers or settlers with guns.

The bottom line is that the giant owls of Eurasia are colonizing north America as they should.

Albuquerque residents claim giant owls are eating their pets 

Residents in the foothills of the US city of Albuquerque have claimed that giant owls have moved into the area and are snacking on their small cats and dogs. 

A large owl is said to have feasted on small cats and dogs in the city (Picture: Alamy)
It is unknown whether there are more than one of the large owls, which are said to roam the area looking for small animals to feast on.

Pet owners living in the foothills are now concerned and are keeping a close eye on their beloved pooches and cats. 'We've seen him 3 or 4 times. He's huge. One day when we were walking, he swooped down over my husband's head. He's a huge owl,' said local resident, Cindy Hummel.

One dog owner said she found claw marks on the back of her pet and another said that an owl that lives next to her home killed her puppy.

Marie Iverson described how she heard her dog yelping and when she went out to see what had happened, the puppy had disappeared.

The head zookeeper at Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque spoke to local station News 13 and told them that because owls were night hunters, it would be a good idea for owners to keep their pets in after dark.

Eurasian Eagle-Owl

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle owl resident in much of Europe and Asia. It is also one of the largest types of owls.

The Eagle Owl is a large and powerful bird, smaller than the Golden Eagle but larger than the Snowy Owl. It is sometimes referred to as the world's largest owl, but this is actually the Blakiston's Fish Owl, which is slightly bigger on average.[2][3] The Eagle Owl has a wingspan of 138–200 cm (55–79 in) and measures 58–75 cm (23–30 in) long. Females weigh 1.75-4.5 kg (3.9-10 lbs) and males weigh 1.5-3.2 kg (3.3-7 lbs).[4][5][6] In comparison, the Barn Owl weighs about 500 grams (1.1 lbs).

The great size, ear tufts and orange eyes make this a distinctive species. The ear tufts of males are more upright than those of females. The upperparts are brown-black and tawny-buff, showing as dense freckling on the forehead and crown, stripes on the nape, sides and back of the neck, and dark splotches on the pale ground colour of the back, mantle and scapulars. A narrow buff band, freckled with brown buff, runs up from the base of the bill, above the inner part of the eye and along the inner edge of the black-brown ear tufts. The rump and upper tail-coverts are delicately patterned with dark vermiculations and fine wavy barring. The facial disc is tawny-buff, speckled with black-brown, so densely on the outer edge of the disc as to form a "frame" around the face. The chin and throat are white continuing down the center of the upper breast. The whole of the underparts except for chin, throat and centre of upper breast is covered with fine dark wavy barring, on a tawny-buff ground colour. Legs and feet are likewise marked on a buff ground colour but more faintly. The tail is tawny-buff, mottled dark grey-brown with about six black-brown bars. This plumage may vary slightly in different subspecies but is consistently distinctive. Bill and claws are black, the iris is orange (yellow in some subspecies).


It mainly feeds on small mammals in the 200-2,000 gram (0.44-4.4 lb)[7] weight range, such as volesratsmice and hares. However, prey can be killed up to the size of foxesmarmots and young deer (up to 17 kg/37 lb), if taken by surprise.[8] The other significant group of prey is other birds and almost any type of bird is potential prey. Common avian prey include corvidsgrousewoodpeckers, other raptors and, especially near coastal areas, ducksseabirds and geese.[9] Larger prey (over 3 kg/7 lb) is consumed on the ground which leaves the bird vulnerable to loss of prey or even predation by predators such as foxes.


The call of the Eagle Owl is a deep resonant “ooh-hu with emphasis on the first syllable for the male, and a more high-pitched uh-Hu for the female. Each member of an Eagle Owl population can be identified by means of its vocalizations.

This species has a strong direct flight, usually consisting of shallow wing beats and long, fast glides. It has, unusually for an owl, also been known to soar on updrafts. The latter method of flight has lead them to be mistaken for Buteos, which are smaller and quite differently-proportioned.[10]

The Eagle Owl is largely nocturnal and is usually found nesting on cliff ledges. Laying generally begins in late winter, sometimes later. One clutch per year of 1-6 white eggs are laid, measuring 56-73mm x 44.2- 53mm (2.2- 2.9" x 1.7- 2.1") and weighing 75- 80g (2.6- 2.8 oz). They are normally laid at 3 days intervals and are incubated by the female alone, starting from the first egg, for 31–36 days. During this time, she is fed at the nest by her mate. Once hatched, the young are brooded for about 2 weeks; the female stays with them at the nest for 4–5 weeks. For the first 2–3 weeks the male brings food to the nest or deposits it nearby, and the female feeds small pieces the young. At 3 weeks the chicks start to feed themselves and begin to swallow smaller items whole. At 5 weeks the young walk around the nesting area, and at 52 days are able to fly a few metres. They may leave ground nests as early as 22–25 days old, while elevated nests are left at an age of 5–7 weeks. Fledged young are cared for by both parents for about 20–24 weeks. They become independent between September and November in Europe, and leave the parents' territory (or are driven out by them). At this time the male begins to sing again and inspect potential future nesting sites. Young reach maturity in the following year, but normally breed when 2–3 years old.

In winter

The Eagle Owl can live for 20 years in the wild although like many other bird species in captivity they can live much longer, perhaps up to 60 years. Adults have no natural predators are thus considered apex predators. Man-made causes are the leading cause of death for this species: electrocution, traffic accidents and shooting sometimes claim the eagle-owl.


Eagle Owls are distributed sparsely through a wide range of habitats. They have been found in habitats as diverse as Northern coniferous forests to the edge of vast deserts. Rocky areas seem to be favored, with cliffs and mountains abutting woodland usually containing the largest numbers of these owls. Taigasteppe and grasslands, may also be visited, largely while hunting in their large territories.[10]

Farmland is sometimes inhabited and they even have been observed living in European cities. Since 2005, at least five couples have nested inHelsinki.[11] The number is expected to increase due to the growth of the European rabbit population in Helsinki.

(European rabbits have spread recently to the Helsinki area, originating from pet rabbits released to the wild. Hares, a prey of the Eagle owls in their natural habitat, live only in rural areas, not in the city centre.) In June 2007, an Eagle Owl nicknamed 'Bubi' landed in the crowded Helsinki Olympic Stadium during the European Football Championship qualification match between Finland and Belgium. The match was interrupted for six minutes.[12] After tiring of the match, following Jonathan Johansson's opening goal for Finland, the bird left the scene.[12] Finland's national football team have had the nickname Huuhkajat (Finnish for Eurasian Eagle-Owls) ever since. The owl was named "Helsinki Citizen of the Year" in December 2007.[13

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