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Owl (Ukrainian: сова, пугач, сплюшка; супуха, сич, сіра; sova, puhach, spliushka, supukha, sych, sira). A nocturnal bird belonging to the order Strigiformes, including the families Strigidae (typical owls), Tytonidae (barn and grass owls), and Phodilidae (bay owls). Its body length ranges from 17 to 74 cm, its weight, from 50 g to 3.25 kg, and its wingspan, from 40 cm to 1.8 m. In Ukraine there are 13 known species, including both local and migratory birds. Sedentary owls include the long-eared owl (Asio otus), the short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), which lives in open areas and avoids forests, the barn owl (Tyto alba), which inhabits abandoned structures, and the little owl (Athene noctua), which settles near empty dwellings and in dry steppe areas in burrows or rock piles. Irregular winter flights into Ukraine from the north and northwest are made by the migratory tawny owl (Strix aluco), the long-tailed or Ural owl (Strix uralensis), and the Lapp or great gray owl, also known as the bearded owl (Strix nebulosa). Because owls are beneficial to agriculture and forestry, they are now a protected species in Ukraine. The owl features prominently as a wise character in Ukrainian folklore and children's literature; it has also been known as a harbinger of doom.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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