World’s biggest owl depends on large old trees
The Blakiston fish owl (Bubo Blakistoni) is the world’s largest — and one of the rarest — owl species, with an impressive 6 foot (2 meter) wingspan. The giant owl, found exclusively in northeast Asia, shares its habitat with a menagerie of endangered and impressive animals, including Amur tigers, Amur leopards, Asiatic black bears and wild boars. Now, a recent study in Oryx, led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has discovered that these owls rely on threatened old trees for nesting and foraging sites.
In Primorye, Russia, a research team headed by Jonathan Slaght with the WCS and the University of Minnesota, looked at 20,213 square kilometers of forest and found that owl nesting sites are usually within old, large trees — such as Japanese poplars, chosenia and cork bark elms. The nesting sites are all located along streams — which are also the habitat for the owl’s primary food source, salmon. This means Blakiston’s fish owl is entirely dependent on riparian forests, which refers to the banks along a water source or the interface between water and land.
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