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BLAKISTON’S FISH OWL } Bubo blakistoni

RANGE: Russia (eastern Siberia), China, Japan (Hokkaido), and probably North Korea

STATUS: Blakiston’s fish owls are declining in Russia, China and possibly Japan. The World Conservation Union listed the species as Endangered in 2006.

THREATS: Logging, loss of riverside forest to farmland and development, dam construction, over-harvesting of fish, disturbance by humans, river pollution, hunting, collisions with power lines and cars, and drowning in nets on fish farms

Blakiston’s fish owls love dense forests with hoary trees (full of nesting nooks) near lakes, rivers, springs, and shoals that don’t freeze over in winter. They think fish rule — for dinner. But they’ll eat small mammals and other birds, too, especially in winter. Only a few hundred Blakiston’s fish owls remain in the wild, and their numbers are declining across their entire range, which includes eastern Siberia in Russia, China, the island of Hokkaido in Japan, and probably North Korea. They’re the victims of widespread logging and loss of riverside forests, and over-harvesting of fish by people has severely restricted this bird’s menu in Russia and Japan. On Hokkaido, Blakiston’s fish owls are killed by power-line and car collisions, as well as by drowning in nets on fish farms. The species is legally protected in Russia, China, and Japan.

Photo © Jon Slaght