The nocturnal raptors have raised numerous myths and beliefs, some good, others not so much. They are distributed across all continents, except Antarctica. Of the total known species, 13 live in Europe; and of these eight live with us in the Iberian Peninsula.
Night raptors in the Iberian Peninsula: major raptors
The eagle owl
Known by its scientific name Bubo bubo, It is the largest European night bird of prey. It has up to 180 centimeters in size and weighs 2500 grams in weight. It stands out for its colorful and majestic appearance; It has large orange eyes, fawn plumage that covers the legs, and black beak and nails.
It is a sedentary bird that maintains a more or less large territory.
Known by its scientific name Tyto alba, is a medium sized night bird. It measures 94 centimeters in size and 360 grams in weight. Its plumage is golden, with gray and white specks on the back, with the entire white ventral part. Its most prominent feature is the face, with a white heart-shaped facial disc.
Night raptors in the Iberian Peninsula: minor raptors
Known by its scientific name Asio otusIt looks like a little eagle owl. It has 100 centimeters of wingspan and 350 grams of weight. Its body is reddish brown, dotted with darker tones. The facial disc is also reddish, with orange eyes surrounded by white nibs.
In the upper part of the head it has feathers that resemble ears.
Known by its scientific name Athene noctua, is a chubby bird the size of a crow. Its wingspan reaches 100 centimeters and weighs about 700 grams. Brown, reddish or grayish, it has a mottled body in black and white. Its wings are rounded and short. And his facial disc is grayish, in which his black eyes stand out.
Known by its scientific name Strix aluco, measures about 60 centimeters in size and weight of, at most, 200 grams. It is a small and plump owl, nice looking. It has a white plumage with brown stripes or dark brown speckled in white. The eyes are large, with yellow irises, framed by white ‘eyebrows’ that give it the appearance of a frown.
It stands out for having a robust and disproportionate claws with the small size of its body.
I use it
Known by its scientific name Otus scops, is the smallest nocturnal bird of the Iberian Peninsula. Its wingspan does not exceed 54 centimeters and weighs, at most, 145 grams. Its dorsal plumage is golden and ‘ears’ that delimit the facial disc, where it shows yellow-orange eyes. On the ventral side the plumage tends towards light gray.
Despite its small size, it is a traveling owl, agile in flight and very skilled at hunting.
Known by its scientific name Asio flammeus, measures about 100 centimeters in wingspan and weighs about 300 grams. Its plumage is similar to that of the little owl, with yellow spots on the end of the wings and an ocher facial disc. The eyes are penetrating yellow, surrounded by black nibs.
It is a very curious owl of daytime habits.
Tengmalm owl, one of the most unknown nocturnal raptors of our fauna
Also known as a northern owl, its name is scientific Aegolius funereus. It measures about 58 centimeters in size and does not reach 200 grams in weight. It presents great variation of colors, from reddish to grayish. On the top it is chocolate color, with vivid white spots. The eyes are yellow, as is the beak.
The feathers cover his legs and feet.
Although they share certain essential characteristics, day and night raptors keep some notable differences to the naked eye. Read more “