The largest species of owl in the world, the European eagle owl lives all over mainland Europe and is particularly concentrated in Scandinavia. Formerly found in Britain, it has been absent here since the eighteenth century.
Like all woodland owls it has prominent tufts on its head. These are not ears, which like all owls are hidden openings in the downy feathers on the front of the face. Instead, the tufts possibly have a role in display and attracting a mate.
Eagle owls are nocturnal and have excellent night vision and hearing to hunt in woodland areas at night. The Eurasian Eagle Owl is an incredibly skilled and powerful predator. Pairing their silent flight with their large powerful talons, they can take down prey as large as foxes or fawns and have no known natural predators.
During the 20th century the Eurasian eagle-owl underwent a significant decline in Europe due mainly to human persecution. However, pesticide use, collisions with vehicles, barbed wire and powerlines have all played a part. Diseases which have severely reduced rabbit populations in some areas, have also had knock-on effects for the Eurasian eagle-owl.
Europe and Asia
Forests and woodlands
Small and large mammals, birds, rodents