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Mackinder's eagle owl

Bubo mackinderi

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56 - 75cm

1.1 - 1.5m

1.5 - 2kg

10 - 15 yrs

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The Mackinder’s eagle owl is officially considered a subspecies of the cape eagle owl (Bubo capensis), although many separate it as its own distinct species, Bubo mackinderi. This is perhaps due to it being somewhat isolated from the typical range of the cape owl, instead being found mainly in Kenya.

Least Concern

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LC

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This subspecies is the largest of the cape owls, although it is only considered of medium size when compared to other eagle owls. Its body is mostly a dark brown but with heavy white, black and tawny blotches across a paler chest. The facial disc is a fulvous brown with a black border extending up to its prominent ear tufts. The eyes are a bright, piercing orange.

What Does it Look Like?

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What Does it Sound Like?

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Its calls are thought to be similar to that of the cape eagle owl, with the male emitting a powerful hoot followed by a faint “boowh-hu”. The female’s call is nearly identical, but higher in pitch. They are known to perform a duet during courtship, at which time the male may also make a “cu-coo-cu” sound whilst bowing. The alarm call for both sexes is a “wack wack wack”.

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Studies suggest that mammals – particularly rodents – make up almost the entire diet, with groove-toothed rats being the most important individual species. They do, however, take birds up to the weight of a hamerkop, and will occasionally prey on large insects and reptiles. They glide down from a perch before striking prey with their powerful talons.

What Does it Eat?

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Where Does it Nest?

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They find sheltered spaces under rocky ledges and crevices, or perhaps in a cave. They normally lay only 2 eggs a few days apart, which are then incubated for 5 weeks. The chicks are brooded for 4 weeks and will begin leaving the nest at about 45 days old. However, normally the second, smaller chick will have died of starvation, with only the eldest being raised.

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The cape eagle owl resides mostly on the southern tip of Africa from Namibia through to South Africa and Zambia. They are also present in parts of Tanzania and Ethiopia, but are most commonly found on the Mau Plateau in Kenya, as is this particular subspecies. They prefer rocky, mountainous areas, but can also be found in grasslands, forests and savanna.

Where Does it Live?

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What is its Status?

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As a subspecies of the cape eagle owl, it is considered of Least Concern by the IUCN due to their fairly large range, despite being rare outside of Kenya. It is thought that the use of pesticides to kill rodents is a potential threat which, combined with this owl’s low hatching success, may cause a significant decline in future populations.

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