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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®: Blakiston’s Fish Owl

Air Date: Week of

A Blakiston’s Fish-Owl with prey. (Photo: Hiyashi Haka)

Owls typically hunt mice and small rodents in fields and meadows, but as Mary McCann explains in today’s BirdNote®, Blakiston’s Fish Owl is a bird of a different feather and diet.


CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood.


CURWOOD: When most of us picture owls, we see them swooping low on silent wings over fields in search of mice and voles. But as Mary McCann points out in today’s BirdNote, some owls choose a different diet.


Blakiston’s Fish-Owl - Fishing for Salmon

[Hooting sequence of Blakiston’s Fish-Owl]

Deep, sonorous hoots signal the presence of a sumo wrestler of a bird.


It's Blakiston’s Fish-Owl. Blakiston’s, because its existence was recorded by the English naturalist, Thomas Blakiston. And Fish-Owl, because, it hunts fish. Standing at the edge of a stream, sometimes in the shallows, it watches intently. Eyes fixed on the water. Then, with a sudden jump forward, wings upraised, it plunges its talons into a fish and pulls it onto the bank – sometimes, a fish as large as a salmon.

This massive bird is the largest owl in the world. Tawny brown, a female Blakiston’s Fish-Owl is the larger of the sexes and may stand 28 inches tall, weighing in at over ten pounds. That's the same weight as a Bald Eagle. Compared with our largest familiar owl, the Great Horned, the Blakiston's is six inches taller and nearly three times as heavy. No other owl approaches its prodigious girth.

[More Hooting]

A Blakiston’s Fish-Owl, considered to be the largest owl in the world. (Photo: Robert TDC)

But the Blakiston's Fish-Owl is endangered. It's found only in wooded areas in the east of Japan's second-largest island, Hokkaido, and in small areas in adjacent Russia and China.
Future preservation of forest and river habitats in these regions will be crucial to the survival of this one-of-a-kind owl. I’m Mary McCann.
Written by Bob Sundstrom
Blakiston's fish owl 1163700 recorded by David M., Xeno-Canto.org
Nature SFX Essentials #18 “Stream, Moderate” recorded by Gordon Hempton of QuietPlanet.com
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2005-2018 Tune In to Nature.org March 2018 Narrator: Mary McCann


CURWOOD: And for pictures, swoop on over to our website loe dot org.



This story on the BirdNote® website

Blakiston’s Fish-Owl on Arkive

Blakiston’s Fish-Owl Project

Watch: Blakiston’s Fish-Owl Catching Fish

Watch: Blakiston’s Fish-Owl in Hokkaido, Japan


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