Ural Owls inhabit mainly the large boreal forests of Eurasia. An isolated subspecies (S. u. macroura) occurs in the mountain beech forests of central Europe. Populations from the Carpathians seem to be expanding, and in recent decades these owls (breeding and non-breeding) have also been found in the agroforestry landscape of the Central European Foothills and Uplands. The aim of our study was to analyse the influence of agroforestry landscape characteristics and the age of forest patches on the presence of breeding and non-breeding Ural Owls. The research was conducted in the Polish Carpathian foothills during 1996–2007. Breeding Ural Owls need at least 100 ha of forest situated far from human habitation, and at least part of such a forest should be over 60 years old. The forests inhabited by the Ural Owl were also frequently surrounded by other patches of forest connected by wooded corridors. Non-breeding Ural Owls did not exhibit any preference for some of the examined habitat characters. Hence, young owls probably have large dispersal abilities and spread randomly in the search for new territories. A positive dependence between the occurrence of non-breeding owls and distances from breeding territories shows that non-breeding birds can remain for some time in the vicinity of territories occupied by adult Ural Owls.
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