9 Owl Species Found in the Czech Republic

In the enchanting forests and urban landscapes of the Czech Republic, a diverse array of owl species can be found. From the charismatic Short-eared Owl, spotted gracefully soaring in open areas during daylight hours, to the sociable Long-eared Owl, affectionately known as the Cat Owl for its distinctive ear tufts, these feathered creatures bring both mystery and wonder to the country’s natural tapestry. The Tawny Owl, a truly versatile species, can be found in deciduous and mixed forests as well as urban areas, captivating onlookers with its courtship displays. Meanwhile, the Little Owl, with its widespread presence in various habitats like farmlands and parks, adds a touch of charm with its diminutive stature. Among the grandest inhabitants of the Czech Republic are the Eurasian Eagle Owl, nestled in mountainous and rocky regions, and the Barn Owl, known for its heart-shaped face and fondness for abandoned barns. As the dusk settles, the Tengmalm’s Owl emerges in boreal forests, its population trends shrouded in mystery. Finally, the Czech Republic is home to the Eurasian Pygmy Owl, the smallest of its kind, often found enchanting the coniferous forests with its petite frame. Each owl species possesses distinct attributes, be it in size, coloring, or vocalizations, contributing to the rich tapestry of the Czech Republic’s avian inhabitants.

Short-eared Owl

9 Owl Species Found in the Czech Republic

Description

The Short-eared Owl is one of the owl species commonly found in the Czech Republic. It has a medium-sized body with a wingspan of around 94-104 cm. This owl species is easily recognized by its short, ear-like tufts on top of its head, from which it derives its name. The feathers on its upper body are typically a mottled brown color, providing excellent camouflage against its surroundings. The underparts have a pale yellowish color with dark streaks, and the facial disc is pale with a dark border, highlighting the owl’s bright yellow eyes.

Habitat

Short-eared Owls prefer open areas such as grasslands, marshes, and moorlands. They can also be found in agricultural fields, meadows, and coastal dunes. These owls are well-adapted to hunting in these areas, relying on their keen eyesight and excellent hearing to locate prey, which mainly consists of small mammals like voles and mice.

Behavior

Unlike most other owl species, the Short-eared Owl is diurnal, meaning it is active during the daytime. It can often be observed flying low over its hunting grounds, with slow and buoyant flapping interspersed with glides. Short-eared Owls are known for their aerial acrobatics, performing impressive displays such as soaring, hovering, and even what is known as “sky-dancing.” During the breeding season, males may also engage in courtship flights, showcasing their agility and attracting potential mates.

Long-eared Owl

Description

The Long-eared Owl, also known as the Cat Owl, is another owl species found in the Czech Republic. This medium-sized owl has a wingspan of around 91-100 cm. It has distinctive ear tufts that are longer compared to the Short-eared Owl, which give it a slightly cat-like appearance. The Long-eared Owl’s plumage is primarily reddish-brown with intricate patterns of dark streaks and bars. Its facial disc is colored similarly to its body, and its eyes are large and bright yellow.

9 Owl Species Found in the Czech Republic

Habitat

Long-eared Owls inhabit dense woodlands, coniferous forests, and mixed forests. They can also be found in parks, gardens, and urban areas with suitable tree coverage. These owls rely on their excellent camouflage and prefer habitats with dense vegetation that allows them to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings.

Behavior

One of the unique characteristics of the Long-eared Owl is its sociable behavior. They often roost in groups, forming what is known as a “roosting colony.” These colonies can consist of multiple owls, sometimes reaching up to fifty individuals. During the daytime, Long-eared Owls typically rest on tree branches close to the trunk, using their plumage and ear tufts to mimic broken branches and remain inconspicuous. They are primarily nocturnal hunters and feed on small mammals, birds, and insects. When threatened, these owls adopt a defensive posture, elongating their bodies, raising their feathers, and stretching out their ear tufts to appear larger and more intimidating.

Tawny Owl

9 Owl Species Found in the Czech Republic

Description

The Tawny Owl is a medium-sized owl species found in the Czech Republic. Its body length ranges from 37 to 39 cm, with a wingspan of 81 to 95 cm. This owl species has a stocky build with a large head and no ear tufts. Its plumage is primarily grey-brown, providing excellent camouflage against tree bark. The Tawny Owl’s large and round facial disc is pale and framed by dark concentric circles, making its dark brown eyes stand out.

Habitat

Tawny Owls can be found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous and mixed forests. They are also well-adapted to urban environments, often nesting in parks, gardens, and even old buildings. These owls prefer nesting in tree cavities, but will readily use man-made nest boxes as well.

9 Owl Species Found in the Czech Republic

Courtship Behavior

During the breeding season, Tawny Owls perform elaborate courtship rituals. The male initiates the courtship display by hooting, producing a rhythmic “hooo-hu, hooo-hu” sound. The female responds with a high-pitched “kee-wick” call. The male brings food offerings to the female as part of the courtship process, symbolizing his ability to provide for the family. Once mating occurs, the male continues to bring food to the female until the eggs are laid. The Tawny Owl is known for its monogamous behavior, with pairs often staying together for life.

Little Owl

Description

The Little Owl is a small owl species often found in the Czech Republic. It has a compact body, measuring around 23 cm in length, with a wingspan of approximately 56 cm. This owl has a distinctive facial appearance, with its large yellow eyes, white eyebrows, and a short, squat beak. The plumage on its upper body is usually gray-brown, while the underparts are pale with dark streaks. The Little Owl’s legs are covered in dense feathers, giving it a unique “stocking-like” appearance.

9 Owl Species Found in the Czech Republic

Habitat

Little Owls are widespread and can adapt to various habitats. They are commonly found in farmlands, open countryside, orchards, and even urban areas. These owls have a preference for areas with scattered trees and patches of shrubs, as these provide suitable nesting and hunting sites.

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Description

The Eurasian Eagle Owl is one of the largest owl species in the Czech Republic. It has a massive body, measuring around 66-75 cm in length, with a wingspan ranging from 160 to 188 cm. This owl species has prominent ear tufts, large orange eyes, and a distinct facial disc framed by brown feathers. The plumage on its upper body varies from gray-brown to tawny, while the underparts are paler and densely marked with dark streaks and bars.

Habitat

Eurasian Eagle Owls primarily inhabit mountainous and rocky areas, such as cliffs, quarries, and ravines. They can also be found in forests, especially in areas with large trees where they can establish their nests. These owls are well-adapted to their habitat, possessing powerful talons and a strong beak to capture and feed on their prey.

Barn Owl

Description

The Barn Owl, known for its heart-shaped face, is a distinctive owl species found in the Czech Republic. It has a medium-sized body, measuring around 33 to 39 cm in length, with a wingspan of approximately 80 to 95 cm. The Barn Owl’s plumage is pale to reddish-brown, with a ghostly white underbelly. Its facial disc is heart-shaped and lightly colored, contrasting with its dark eyes.

Habitat

Barn Owls are non-migratory and primarily inhabit open countryside and agricultural areas. They can also be found in wetlands, marshes, and grasslands. Barn Owls have a preference for old buildings, abandoned barns, and ruined structures where they can roost and nest. These owls typically nest in cavities or crevices, often using man-made nest boxes.

Tengmalm’s Owl

Description

Tengmalm’s Owl is a small owl species found in boreal forests of the Czech Republic. It has a compact body, measuring around 20 to 23 cm in length, with a wingspan of approximately 50 to 57 cm. This owl species has a rounded head without any ear tufts, giving it a distinctive appearance. Its plumage is typically gray-brown, with white spots on its back and wings. The facial disc is pale and framed by dark feathers, emphasizing its bright yellow eyes.

Habitat

Tengmalm’s Owls are closely associated with boreal forests, which are characterized by coniferous trees such as spruce and pine. They favor areas with dense undergrowth, where they can find suitable nesting sites. These owls are highly territorial and have adapted to the cold climate by growing a dense layer of feathers, helping them survive the harsh winters.

Population Trends

The population trends of Tengmalm’s Owls in the Czech Republic are relatively unknown. Due to their elusive behavior and preference for remote and inaccessible habitats, monitoring their numbers can be challenging. However, studies indicate that in areas where their preferred habitat remains intact, the population of Tengmalm’s Owls remains stable. Conservation efforts focusing on preserving their habitat and raising awareness about their importance in maintaining ecosystem balance are essential to ensure the long-term survival of this owl species.

Eurasian Pygmy Owl

Description

The Eurasian Pygmy Owl is the smallest owl species found in the Czech Republic. It has a compact body, measuring around 15 to 17 cm in length, with a wingspan of approximately 33 to 35 cm. Despite its small size, this owl has a distinctive appearance with a round head, no ear tufts, and bright yellow eyes. Its plumage is typically brown on the upper body, marked with white spots and bars, while the underparts are pale with dark streaks.

Habitat

Eurasian Pygmy Owls are commonly found in coniferous forests, including pine and spruce-dominated areas. They prefer habitats with dense vegetation, such as old-growth forests and areas with a high abundance of tree hollows and cavities. These owls are excellent climbers and are known to move headfirst down tree trunks, searching for insects, small mammals, and birds.

Unique Identifying Characteristics

Each owl species mentioned above has unique features that allow for easy identification. In terms of size, the Eurasian Eagle Owl stands out as one of the largest owl species, while the Eurasian Pygmy Owl is the smallest. The presence or absence of ear tufts is another distinguishing factor, with the Short-eared Owl and Long-eared Owl both having prominent tufts, while the Tawny Owl and Tengmalm’s Owl lack them.

Coloring and patterns on the plumage also vary among species, with the Little Owl having distinct white eyebrows and a stockinged appearance on its legs. Vocalizations play a crucial role in identifying owl species as well, with each species having unique calls and hooting patterns. Observing these characteristics, along with an understanding of their preferred habitats and behaviors, can help enthusiasts and researchers properly identify and appreciate the diverse owl species found in the Czech Republic.

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