DID YOU KNOW?
The Blakiston’s Fish-Owl is the largest owl in the world!
The Blakiston's fish-owl is considered to be a “God who defends the village” or “God of the village” for the native Ainu people in Hokkaido, a region in Japan where it lives. The fish-owl was regarded as their most important God and the Ainu thus lived in harmony with the owl along river valleys, where they both depended on the fish.
With a height of up to three feet, the Blakiston’s Fish-Owl has an impressive wingspan of six feet while weighing up to ten pounds, making it the same weight as a Bald Eagle. You can recognize it by its peculiar yellow eyes and grey bill that has a yellowish tip. This owl is native to Japan, China, and the mountain regions of Russia. It feeds on fish such as catfish, trout, salmon, and crayfish.
The species is currently listed as endangered.
The Blakiston’s fish-owl is threatened because it’s losing its home: the riverine forest. Dam construction and riverside development also threaten its way of life, while over-harvesting of fish in the region has led to a loss of food as well. It is estimated that there are only a few thousand owls of this species left in the world. Given how limited its range already is, the sacred Blakiston’s Fish-Owl has now become one of the world’s rarest birds.
Blakiston's Fish Owl catching a fish
WHO IS PROTECTING THE BLAKISTON'S FISH-OWL?
The Blakiston’s Fish-Owl Project is a researching different threats to the owl. This project, led by Dr. Jonathan Slaght, is a collaboration between the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia Program and the Amur-Ussuri Centre for Avian Biodiversity since 2005. They conduct population monitoring of important Fish-Owl territories and surveys to identify owls by their vocal signatures. The deep call of the owls can be heard in the night, echoing through the forests they inhabit.
They have also been working with logging companies to decrease the negative effect on the owl due to logging. The project has released research publications on studies such as assessing conservation strategies in Hokkaido, Japan.
The Blakiston’s Fish-Owl Project encourages contributions through donations and merchandise sales.