Saturday, November 22, 2008

Serbia's Long-eared Owl Roosts

I thought I had seen just about everything there was to see in the bird and birding world of Eastern Europe, but a few days ago I was shown something quite amazing. I was taken to several Long-eared Owl roosts in the Banat region of NE Serbia and it was unbelievable. Almost every village there seems to be home to wintering owls, which are packed into clumps of trees in parks, gardens, church yards and along high streets. One tree in a quiet village near the Romanian border held around 80 birds! The surrounding trees held between 10 to 50 each. There must have been about 300 owls in that street! Here are some facts: There are over 400 known Long-eared Owl roosts in northern Serbia. The average roost has 50 birds, many are 250 birds strong and some number over 400. Single trees average 25 birds. The roosts develop in October and numbers build up through the winter before the owls leave finally in March. All in all, northern Serbia is the world's most important wintering area for Long-eared Owls. It is a sight that all birders should see with great photographic opportunities, and I intend to organise a few trips there for this. The photo here is not the best, just a quick one taken on a small camera, but it does offers a snapshot of one of the owl-filled trees.

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