Bubi the eagle owl has not returned to the Olympic Stadium
Wednesday's "pitch invasion" unprecedented in Europe
By Antti Tiainen
When a Eurasian eagle owl (nicknamed “Bubi” - see other article) interrupted Wednesday evening’s football international between Finland and Belgium for six minutes, eagle owl experts were stunned at the steely-nerved display by the bird.
“Under normal circumstances something like this would be completely unbelievable, but the citified eagle owls that have emerged in the 21st century are a new phenomenon around Europe”, explained Raimo Seppälä, from the Helsinki Area Birding Society Tringa. Seppälä has headed up a group investigating the urbanised owls, of which there are at least half a dozen in the capital.
After tiring of the match, following Jonatan Johansson’s opening goal for Finland, the big bird flew out of the stadium accompanied by a posse of seagulls, and it has not returned.
“We’ve all been missing Bubi. The foyer at the Stadium has been full of tourists who want to come and see the famous eagle owl”, laughs the Olympic Stadium’s marketing manager Pekka Hurme.
People have even suggested to the Olympic Stadium staff that they should arrange permanent eagle owl-spotting tours and produce a postcard of their sympathetic and apparently fearless mascot.
Bubi has been hanging out at the Stadium nearly every day since January of this year, apart from a month-long break in the early spring.
The bird’s determined display in front of 34,000 football fans - under conditions that would have made the toughest humans flinch - has prompted some in the Tringa eagle owl group to wonder if Bubi actually has a nest in the sports arena, maybe with young fledglings in it.
A grizzled twitcher and nest-hunter from the group, Juhani Ahola, has been around to check, however, and he has found nothing. Bubi does not have a formal home in the Stadium, even though he has been a familiar sight there for months.
What the new European city-owls have in common is an almost complete disregard for humans and their doings.
Even so, Bubi’s antics on Wednesday night were unprecedented and set the bar very high indeed.
“After it took to the pitch, to begin with, the bird just couldn’t be bothered to leave. A stunt like that completely wipes the floor with anything we have ever seen before”, says a stunned Seppälä.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 8.6.2007
Update, Monday 11.6.2007: Bubi still AWOL
Bubi, the eagle owl who caused a stir at the Olympic Stadium during the Finland-Belgium EURO 2008 qualifier, has still not returned home. There have been no sightings of the bird in Helsinki.
The Stadium janitor Vesa Korhonen commented on Sunday that Bubi may have been put off by the noise from building work on the stage for Monday’s Genesis concert at the venue.
Korhonen said that Bubi has quite often taken off for two to four days at a time, after which he has always returned to his regular haunt in the main A-stand at the arena.
He may be away for a bit longer this time, because the dismantling of the concert stage will take until well into the latter half of the week.
Korhonen also pointed out that the eagle owl is a bird with a strong sense of territorial loyalty. Once one of them chooses a place to hang out, it does not move without considerable pressure.
More on this subject:
One big beautiful bird
At least five eagle owls live in Helsinki (an article from March 2007)
FACTFILE: How Bubo bubo became Bubi
Finland issued an eagle owl stamp over 50 years ago (centre, between a Bohemian Waxwing and a Mute Swan)...
And again in September 1998 (the splendid miniature sheet designed by Erik Bruun also includes images of Tengmalm´s Owl, the Great Grey Owl, and the Snowy Owl)
ANTTI TIAINEN / Helsingin Sanomat