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Ural Owl Strix uralensis

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
Cheng Tso-hsin. 1987. A synopsis of the avifauna of China. Paul Parey Scientific Publishers, Hamburg and Berlin.
Cheng Tso-hsin. 1994. A complete checklist of species and subspecies of Chinese birds. Science Press, Beijing.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Strix uralensis and S. davidi were considered distinct species by Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), König et al. (1999) and Marks et al. (1999) but this treatment is not followed by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group because the split of Strix davidi from S. uralensis is based upon the former's overall darker plumage and contrasting concentric lines and marked rim to the facial disc, absent in uralensis. They do not, however, differ vocally or in morphometrics. While davidi also differs from fuscescens, geographically the closest race to davidi, in have having larger, paler spots on head and mantle and having a paler ground colour below, it is not clear how great differences are from nikolskii, the race of uralensis closest in appearance to davidi. This treatment is also followed by Cheng Tso-hsin (1987, 1994).

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 50,000-143,000 pairs, which equates to 99,900-286,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 25% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 396,000-1,140,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in part due to the provision of thousands of nest boxes in some areas to replace dead-wood habitat lost during forestry operations (del Hoyo et al. 1999). In Europe the population size is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).

In areas dominated by open areas, such as fields and clearfells, the Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) outcompetes this species (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). It also suffers from forestry management, which has resulted in the loss of hollow and broken trees which provide nesting sites (König 2008, Holt et al. 2015).

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Hagemeijer, E.J.M. and Blair, M.J. 1997. The EBCC atlas of European breeding birds: their distribution and abundance. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.

Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L. and Marks, J.S. 2015. Ural Owl (Strix uralensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (ed.), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

König, C. and Weick, F. 2008. Owls of the World. Christopher Helm, London.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Strix uralensis. Downloaded from on 30/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Strigidae (Typical Owls)
Species name author Pallas, 1771
Population size 350000-1200000 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 12,100,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment