Friday, 29 February 2008


While reading the excellent birding blog of Timo Janhonen; the Bad Finnish Birdwatcher, I read about an (Eurasian) Eagle Owl Bubo bubo invading a football match played in Finland between the host country and Belgium and that the footage captured of this incident is in Youtube. Finland had won this game according to Timo who sounds happy; mentioning the footie result in the same breath. I had a look at this and thought it had enough merit to share with my blog readers, not that I am overly fond of owls or anything.

Spectators cheer ‘Huuhkaja’, which apparently means owl in finnish. It sounds like a very bad swear word in Sinhalese but I learnt that the bird had since then come to be known as Bubi, a sports commentator in Finland. How fitting considering that its scientific name is Bubo bubo! A related form occurs in Sri Lanka, which is called Forest Eagle Owl Bubo nipalensis (Ulama in Sinhalese), of which the shrilling calls are considered to bring death and misfortune by the locals. I am on the hunt for one of these and I shall break some news if I succeed in my mission. If any of my blog readers have any credible information of this or any other owl in day time roosts in Sri Lanka, please let me know!

Edit: Timo informed me that Huuhkaja means Eagle Owl.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant Amila. What a great specimen. Wonder what he was up to? Couldn't have been a predatory hunt - given the environment. Must've been a football freak!

I've seen the Forest Eagle Owl (also thought to be the infamous Devil Bird) at Sigiriya Lodge in the early evening hours - just in case you want to check it out with the folk there to see if any more sightings were made.

Amila Suwa said...

Java: Contrary to our beliefs, most bigger Owls and certainly the ones of this genus; Bubo have a liking to populated areas for the sheer profusion of easy food; rats
(human beings=garbage=rats).

There are records of Forest Eagle Owl occuring in the town centre of Kataragama at night undeterred by the presence of big crowds that get attracted to this important place of pilgrimage. Similar stories are told by my birding colleagues in Nuwara Eliya.

From what I know, during winter, most bigger owls defy conventions to hunt for food on daytime, although this footie game looks like it is happening in summer as some blokes are clearly enjoying the sun ith no tops. Acording to Timo, Eagle Owls shows a year round presence in the cities and even nesting.

So his occurance there is not entirely unusual. However, from its fidelity to the site by hanging around at a time, when no self-respecting rat would come out, only demostrates that he has a great liking to the footie that is dished out. So you are right!

Thanks a lot for sharing your sighting of the Forest Eagle Owl at Sigiriya. It is interesting that you mentioned this because that is exactly where I am going to look for it SOON!

Nora said...

I think it is strange that the owl is there with so many people and so much noise...owls here hide in the forest and only the crows can find them. Perhaps the owl finds food there when they are not playing football???

Amila Suwa said...

Your right Ocean, the area seem familar ground to it the way it behaves; so it must be finding food over there when there is no football. Quite bizzare by any yardstick.

Anonymous said...

wonderful video. I've never been to a football game, but an eagle owl would make me go:-)

Amila Suwa said...

Thanks Markus.
I am glad you liked it.
It definitely would make me go to a football match as well, which I do not do normally. (we like cricket and rugby over here).

Mel said...

Wow! Never thought they would be in such place with so many people around...

Amila Suwa said...

Hi Mel,
Good to hear from you.
It is an interesting case of behaviour. Glad you liked it.

Katie said...

I think it would be great to have a few Eagle Owls at football grounds in the UK, especially if they pick off a few of the players. Sorry, you've been tagged by me. Yes, another meme...

Amila Suwa said...

Hi Katie,

I have double-trouble! Eco birder too has tagged me in my post above.
I have a tour starting early tomorrow and I haven't even packed.
If I fail to pick a few players as directed today, I shall surely do it for sure upon my return. (FYI, this is a first for me!. Love your profile photo!

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