The Kostroma district (57°65’-59°80’N, 40°80’-47°80’E), 300-700 km ENE of Moscow, has about 1,5 million inhabitants. At least 40% of the region consists of wet taiga dominated by Norway spruce, Scots pine and birch. Marshes and lakes abound, and are interspersed with sandy outcrops. Farming used to be small-scale with hardly any application of manure (natural or chemical), despite the introduction of kolchoz- and sovchoz systems. Presently, much farmland is laid fallow, and gradually changes into spruce forest. The climate is continental and very wet; annual precipitation lies between 2200 and 2600 mm. Every 30-32 years a very dry year occurs, as in 2002 when peat fires started spontaneously. On the other hand, 2004 was extremely wet, with 1470 mm of precipitation in June and July in Shilovo and Mantrovo. Winters are severe, with temperatures sometimes dropping below -45°C. As little information is available on the birds of prey and owls in this district, and maps in field guides often show wrong distribution patterns for Russia, basic data is provided to set the record straight. Among the raptors, Pernis apivorus, Milvus migrans, Circus aeruginosus, Accipiter nisus, Buteo buteo and Asia otus are considered scarce breeding birds. A pair of Honey-buzzards near Shilovo did not raise fledglings in 4 out of 8 years (period 1996- 2003), raised 2 fledglings in 2002 and fledged a single chick in the remaining three years. Invariably, this species foraged on ant nests (not Formica rufa) in grassland in June, but not later in the year. Circus cyaneus, Accipiter gentilis, Pandion haliaetus (2-4 pairs), Falco subbuteo, Falco tinnunculus (remarkably few). Bubo bubo, Strix aluco, Glaucidium passerinum (occasionally recorded, mostly east of Oensja), Aegolius funereus, Athene noctua (mostly in open woodland along rivers, a very different habitat from those breeding in Central Asia where steppe and rock formations are inhabited) and Asia flammeus are rare breeding birds. Strix uralensis (if breeding, then in very small numbers east of the Oensja), Strix nebulosa (mostly seen in winter, but heard calling east of the Oensja in February and March) and Surnia ulula (most common owl in winter months in northern Kostroma, calling heard in February and March east of the Oensja) may breed in very small numbers. Incidental breeding was recorded or suspected for Circus pygargus (possibly breeding near Sharia in 2001, when a pairs was seen several times in July and August; otherwise only incidentally – not each year – recorded in June and September). Between Shilovo and Leontjevo, an adult male Circus macrourus was present in June 2001 (no female recorded). Migrants and winter visitors are, apart from the more common species: Circaetus gallicus (each year between 26 May and 8 June, solitary birds probably overshooting the breeding grounds further south), Haliaeetus albicilla (incidentally outside the breeding season), Buteo lagopus, Aquila clanga (the latter never seen; breeding as shown on maps in literature is mistaken, ditto for the districts of Jaroslavl and Vladimir), Aquila chrysaetos (accidental observations outside the breeding season; not breeding, contra information in literature), Falco vespertinus (small flocks of 2-8 in June, rarely staying for longer than a day; first/last dates 10 June 2001 and 21 June 2003 respectively), Falco columbarius, Falco rusticolus (2 observations in January), Falco peregrinus and Nyctea scandiaca.