Re-introduction of the Ural owl in Austria

Ural owl chick, Photo © M. Graf
Photo of Ural owl chick by M. Graf 1
Photo of Dr.Zink with young ural owls 2
Dr.Zink with young ural owls
Photo of media event "ural owl baptism" 3
Media event "ural owl baptism"
Photo of Dr. Zink and team reaching out to the public 4
Dr. Zink and team reaching out to the public

Under the leadership of ornithologist Richard Zink of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) of the Vetmeduni Vienna, researchers have been working towards the re-introduction of Ural owls (Stryx uralensis) since 2007.  Their goal is the "come-back" of this large owl in Austria´s forests.  The owls had gone extinct in Austria around the middle of the 20th century due to habitat loss and illegal hunting.  Now the living conditions have improved for the Ural owl, following the creation of protected areas and the gradual move towards sustainable forest management. 

Because of this, the re-introduction of Ural owls was recommended by an international delegation of experts in the fall of 2006.  The protected areas "Vienna Woods Biosphere Reserve" and "Wilderness area Duerrenstein" were selected to attempt re-introduction.  These ecologically valuable forest areas offer optimum conditions for the newcomers.  If re-introduction into the Alpine region succeeds, it would be possible to create a connection with southern owl populations (in Slovenia and Italy) and with northern populations (in Germany and the Czech Republic).   Individual owls that migrate between the Austrian and other areas will help to maintain gene flow among the European metapopulation and thus ensure the survival of this rare large owl.  

The release of young, captive-bred Ural owls follows a well-established method that was previously tested in the Bavarian Forest National Park (Nationalpark Bayrischer Wald), where the owls have been successfully re-introduced starting in the 1970s:  The chicks are moved together with their parents to aviaries at the release sites.  In late summer the volieres are divided and the youngsters are allowed to fly freely into their new home. – while the parents remain inside the aviary for some time to ensure the youngsters´site fidelity.  For an evaluation of project success it is essential to keep monitoring the released owls on a regular basis.  The owls are therefore fitted with radio transmitters.  In addition we are working on a high-tech nestbox system, where the animals can be monitored easily during breeding season.  


  • Establishment of a small seed population around the release sites in the Vienna Woods Biosphere Reserve and in the Wilderness Area Duerrenstein
  • Establishment of links to existing populations in other countries
  • Habitat protection

More info: External project website 6


Newsletter archive (in German only)


Project partners

Collage with logos of various project partners 7


Children´s book on ural owls „Annas Weg in die Freiheit“

The book is available for €9,50 at the Vetshop of the Vetmeduni Vienna.
Cover image of the book "Annas Weg" 8

A new children´s book tells the story of ural owls in Austria through the eyes of young owl "Anna". (Book in German) 

More info 9 (in German)


Scientific contact at FIWI

Dr. Richard Zink, Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, Vetmeduni Vienna,

T. +43 (1) 25077-7211 oder 0664 73783299

Email the project team



Recovered a bird ring?

Photo of bird rings

Please report your recovery here 10.