Year of 2017

Pair of Ural owls in Hokkaido, Japan

When the sun sets, these Ural owls will wake up, shake the snow off, and head out to hunt rodents, insects, and even small game birds. You’ll find Ural owls across northern Asia, Russia, and Europe. Perhaps these two in Hokkaido, Japan, are a little groggy thanks to the noise of celebration as nearby humans welcomed the new year.

The Ural owl is a medium-sized nocturnal owl of the genus Strix, with up to 15 subspecies found in Europe and northern Asia. The Ural owl is smaller than the great grey owl, and much larger than the tawny owl, which it superficially resembles. Distinguishing features apart from the size are the pale, buffish grey-brown plumage, with copious dark brown streaking on the back, back of the head and underparts. It has a round head with plain buffish-grey facial discs, orange-yellow bill and small black eyes. The tail is long and wedge-shaped, with dark barring on the uppertail, and the wings are rounded. Flight is direct and purposeful, recalling that of the common buzzard. Sexes are similar, with no seasonal variation. Length can range 50 to 61 cm and wingspan from 110 to 134 cm. Weight in males is 500–730 g and in females is 720–1,300 g.
Scientific name: Strix uralensis
Biological classification: Species
Belongs to: Strix