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Quentin Goffette, Marceline Denis, Nadja Poellath, and Wim Van Neer (2016)

Change in Historical Range of the Ural Owl in Europe


A carpometacarpus recovered during archaeological excavations in the town of Quaregnon is the westernmost find ever reported in Europe of a Ural Owl (Strix uralensis), and the first occurrence for Belgium. Both the morphology of the skeletal element and its measurements rule out an identification as any of the other Strigiformes from the Western Palearctic. The provenance of this specimen, that dates to the medieval period (10th-12th centuries AD), is discussed. It is hypothesized that the bird was a wild animal, but the available evidence does not unequivocally determine whether it belonged to a local, breeding population that went extinct or if it came from a more distant population. However, a survey of other zooarchacological finds of Ural Owl in Europe shows that the species occurred farther west in the past, outside the present natural breeding range. This suggests that Ural Owl may have found suitable nesting biotopes in Belgium and northern France during the medieval period.

International Redaction Board, Impact Factor
biogeography; bird; Strix uralensis; Ural Owl; zooarchaeology
  • ISSN: 0777-6276
Related content
Earth and History of Life

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology