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Goffette, Quentin; Denis, Marceline; Pöllath, Nadja and Neer, Wim van (2016): Change in Historical Range of the Ural Owl in Europe. In: Belgian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 146, No. 1: pp. 33-43

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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.

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