Blakiston's fish owl (Ketupa blakistoni)
|Size||Length: 60 – 72 cm (2)|
Blakiston’s fish owl is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
Blakiston’s fish owl is a large eagle owl, with a wingspan that can reach up to two metres long (4). The wings are dark brown with tawny bars whilst the rest of the upper-body is a paler brown colour (2). The facial disc is greyish and these birds can be distinguished by their characteristically long ear tufts (2). The bill is grey with a yellowish tip (2).
Blakiston’s fish owl is found in Siberia, northeast China and the island of Hokkaido in Japan (2).
These owls are found in old, dense forests along the banks of large rivers (2). In the north of its range, rocky coastline is also inhabited (4).
Pairs of Blakiston’s fish owl mate for life and occupy distinct territories within their forest habitat. In late February and early March, nests begin to be constructed in the hollows of large trees (5). The female lays a clutch of around two eggs, which she then incubates over the 35 days it takes for her offspring to hatch. During this time the male will guard her and provide food (5). Once the chicks have hatched they will remain with their parents for a further 1.5 months (5).
Blakiston’s fish owl is a specialised feeder on aquatic prey such as fish, amphibians and even small mammals. Prey are often seized by walking through the shallows; these birds spend such long periods of time on the ground that they make trails along the riverbank (4).
Habitat loss is the major cause of the decline in Blakiston’s fish owl numbers that has been documented throughout its range (5). Logging of these old forests has been rife and continues to threaten remaining populations today. These owls are targeted by hunters in Russia as they are believed to spoil the fur of trapped animals (5). The depletion of fish numbers through overfishing is also a pertinent threat to this bird of prey (5).
Blakiston’s fish owl is legally protected in all of the countries within which it is found, and occurs within a number of protected areas (2). On Hokkaido, nest boxes and supplementary feeding regimes have been in place since 1984 and a captive breeding and release programme is also underway (5). Without the provision of adequate habitat, however, these measures are ultimately ineffective (5). It has been suggested that a National Park should be created in northern Russia which could help to secure some of the habitat in this region (5).
For more information on the Blakiston’s fish owl see:
BirdLife International - Blakiston’s fish owl:
- BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
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- Territories: areas occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
IUCN Red List (May, 2008)
BirdLife International (May, 2008)
CITES (August, 2003)
Hawk Conservancy (August, 2003)
- BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.