The Eurasian Eagle owl in Els Ports
The Eurasian Eagle owl (Bubo bubo) is the biggest nocturnal bird of prey on the Iberian Peninsula. It has a wingspan of almost 1.80m and weighs more than 2kg, living in the mountains and river valleys of the smaller to medium-sized mountains in Catalonia. It is a highly territorial, sedentary species with a stable partner to whom it is faithful all year long. It feeds on a great number of prey such as rats, rabbits, hedgehogs and even other birds of prey. During the colder months, it marks its territory with a loud song which can be heard up to 4km away on a quiet night.
The Eagle owl lives in the outer areas of Els Ports massif, in rocky outcrops with an abundance of bushy vegetation, which is always near a plain where they can find their prey. Due to their nocturnal habits and discreet manner some pairs live close to man, near villages or farms, where their diet is most probably based on rats. In general, even when nesting in the middle of the Park, this species depends on adjacent areas to cover their feeding requirements.
Marking their territory vocally makes it easier to carry out censuses by means of nocturnal listening stations. This system consists of listening to spontaneous calls of the species from fixed points for a determined time period. The 8th census of eagle owls took place last winter in Els Ports Nature Park. This census was carried out over 3 nights thanks to the participation of 17 people, among whom were staff from the Park’s Catalan Forestry brigade, Rural Officers, technical staff from the Park and volunteers.
The end result of the census was the detection of 11 territories. Here, we are speaking about territories and not pairs as one territory can be formed with a solitary male. Although some territories are very close to others, in general this is not a high density if we compare it to other areas in Catalonia. Strangely enough, we have areas where the habitat is considered a priori favourable and the presence of one example could not be found. The census is expected to take place annually to follow developments of this great bird of prey.