Day 31 of 100 Days of Blogging

Fish and Halloween are two things you probably don’t see mentioned together all that often. But with the spookiest holiday of the year a mere three days away, Blakiston’s Fish Owl fits the bill perfectly for a Halloween themed fish eating bird!

10 Things you might not know about Blakiston’s Fish Owl (Ketupa blakistoni)

#1. Whooo am I?
The Blakiston’s Fish Owl, one of four species of Typical Owls owls that specialize in eating fish, is the world largest living species of owl. It can have a wingspan of up to two metres wide and its length ranges from 60-72 cm.

#2. Where am I?
Prepare to travel to the dense old-growth riparian forests or wooded coastlines of Siberia, northeast China or the island of Hokkaido in Japan to see this bird in the wild.

#3. Cause for Concern
The Blakiston’s Fish Owl is endangered due to widespread habitat destruction and a number of other human causes. Development along riverbanks, conversion of farmland and logging are all cited as factors responsible for habitat loss. In Russia and Japan, over-harvesting of fish as well as owls drowning in fish nets set for salmon have been reported as a cause of mortality.  Fish Owls are killed by fur-trappers and shot by hunters in Russia. In Japan, collisions  with power lines and cars are a factor.

#4. Till death do us part
Fish Owls mate for life and occupy distinct territories within their forest habitat.

#5. Something Fishy Please
Its main diet consists of fish such as pike, catfish, trout and salmon; but it will also eat some other aquatic prey, amphibians and even small mammals. Species from Japan eat a greater variety of mammalian prey and this is a more important part of its diet in winter.

#6. Get outta my way Bubba, I’m starving…
This owl doesn’t shy away from catching some rather large fish, even if it means it has to struggle to remove catch weighing more than twice its own weight from the water. One report describes this owl placing a foot on a tree root to steady itself while hauling its meal out on to the river bank!

#7. I just love my fuzzy slippers!
Its feet are fully feathered to cope with the cold climate of its habitat in Northeast Asia.

#8. I really didn’t hear that coming!
Since fish (presumably) can’t hear the owls approaching, the Blakiston’s Fish Owl does not have silencing fringes on its flight feathers as is typical of other owls.

#9. Mr. Blakiston, nowadays all you’d get is 15 minutes of fame
This species is named after the English explorer and naturalist Thomas Blakiston who “collected” the owl specimen in 1883. He was also the first to notice that animals on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido are more closely related to northern Asian species, and that those on Honshu Island in the south resemble those from Southern Asia. All this not only got him an owl name to his credit, but a whole zoogeographical boundary as well! The boundary between the two islands is known as “Blakiston’s Line”.

#10. Play the video to watch the Owl in action