Birding around Frankfurt Airport – finding Eurasian Eagle-Owls in Taunus hills

Uhu - MännchenIt has been thanks to reintroduction campaigns in recent decades that the Taunus today belongs to one of the most densely populated regions of Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) in Germany. Often the quarries inhabited by the great night-hunters are only a few kilometers apart. The owls do not only colonize the large abandoned mining areas, but also small, long-overgrown quarries and even active mining areas, where they work directly on the breeding wall. A hatchery is usually not much more than a hollow under an overhang, which at least protects something from rain. The trough is practically not padded and barely cleared of stones. As soon as the young owls hatch, the trough visibly gets dirty through food and dung residues. In quarries you can see the traces of the Eurasian Eagle-Owl not infrequently on the remains of plucking. Remnants of plucking can range from hedgehog blankets, half pigeons, pigeon feathers, crow feathers to washed out casts.

After a few weeks, the place is covered with dirt, plucking remnants and vermin, so that one smells the nest from a few meters away rather than sees. If the young birds are still constantly warmed by their parents in the first few weeks, the old Eurasian Eagle-Owls come later only to deliver the prey and then retire somewhere in the rock face or on a nearby tree. At the age of about six weeks, the offspring leaves the eyrie and begins to climb around in the quarry. Although the young birds still stay together for the time being, they sometimes change their location every day, making them difficult to track down. If the birds push against the rocks and close their bright red eyes, they are well protected from discoveries. Even the knowledgeable visitor will then find it only with difficulty in the wall. Only a few weeks later they attempt the first successful wing beats. If they then rest in adjoining trees, they are only to be discovered with much luck.

For several weeks some year ago a family of Eurasian Eagle-Owl could be seen in a small, tranquil town at the edge of the Taunus near Frankfurt. Owls were staying on a terrace of the Hundertwasserhaus, a house built by the famous architect Hunderwasser. The local conservancy initiative NABU drove immediately out to find the hatchery. In fact, on the highest tower of the building was some movement. Right there, where some bushes grew. A little later, the sensation was perfect. A female Eurasian Eagle-Owl could be photographed with two youngs.

In observation attempts the protection of the birds has priority, of course. That is also true, since Eurasian Eagle-Owls could give up their clutches in case of disturbances or even pressure from photographers. Nevertheless, it is of course not forbidden to look for appropriate quarries and then in the early spring with due distance to take pictures with the telephoto lens. Equipped with appropriate instructions from experienced on-site ornithologists, I was able to approach a breeding site for several hundred meters, which was located in a just 100 meters long and about 20 meters high quarry near a suburb of Frankfurt.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is the gateway to continental Europe. Many airlines use the Airport as a hub for connecting flights all over the world. If you are coming from Frankfurt Airport and work in Frankfurt city, you might consider to squeeze in a morning of birding you might have a look at the Taunus hills, which are nearby. Here you can walk, enjoy some fresh air and enjoy birding for typical european birds.

There are other places in nearer surroundings but access is a bit tricky. Please contact via the contact form if I can give further directions or even guide you!

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