The eagle owl can be found all throughout Europe and is also at home in the Alps and in Ötztal. The owl species populates open, diverse, articulated landscapes with loosely forested areas, fields and hedges and does not ascend higher than 1,800 m. Having once occupied a place as its home, the eagle owl is very faithful to its habitat.
The eagle owl got its name from its calls: the male call “buhoo” and the female’s reply “uhju”. These calls can be heard mainly during the mating season in autumn and spring. The warning call “graeck” sounds completely different. Eagle owls get up to 60-70 cm large, their wingspan is about 160-180 cm. The plumage is mainly rust- to grey-brown. The eagle owl’s legs are feathered. Eagle owls are skillful, nocturnal hunters with good hearing and vision. On their hunting forays they hunt primarily small animals such as field mice, dormice and rabbits. Coots, thrushes and the occasional frog and fish also feature on the menu, all swallowed whole. What cannot be digested such as hair and bones (= cast) the owls disgorge. In autumn couples get together to mate. In spring for breeding time, the female usually lays 2 to 4 eggs on a field strip or in a rock shelter. The chicks hatch after about one month.
Thanks to their size, adult birds have no natural enemies in this part of the world. Young birds fall prey to attacks by foxes or badgers on occasion, but rarely.
In the 20th century, humans severely decimated the number of eagle owls through hunting. Even though conservation measures and reintroduction efforts allowed the population to recover again, the eagle owl is still regarded as potentially endangered throughout Austria.