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Savigny's Eagle Owl

Bubo ascalaphus


46 - 50cm

64 - 86cm

1.9 - 2.3kg

10 - 20 yrs





The Savigny's eagle owl, often known as the Pharaoh eagle owl, is a medium-sized owl residing in the arid parts of northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. As a result of this, it is also referred to unofficially as the desert or Sahara eagle owl. It is named after French zoologist Marie Jules César Lelorgne de Savigny.

Least Concern




It has striking, large orange-yellow eyes and mottled plumage. The upperparts are tawny with black and cream blotches, while the underparts are pale cream with black streaks on the upper breast. Its facial disc has a dark rim and the bill is black and hooked. Of the two recognised subspecies, one is smaller and sandier in colouration.

What Does it Look Like?


What Does it Sound Like?


The song of the male is a short, downward-inflected "buo". The female has a similar but higher-pitched song. During courtship, the call is uttered with emphasis on the first note, then a slightly higher pitched second and third - "hu-huhoooh". During courtship, the male and female often perform a duet together.


The Savigny's eagle owl feeds mainly on small rodents, but also takes small animals such as hares, bats, desert foxes or hedgehogs. It will occasionally prey on beetles and other larger insects and has also been known to hunt snakes or scorpions. It watches from a perch and listens to detect moving prey before swooping down on its victim.

What Does it Eat?


Where Does it Nest?


This owl forms a lifelong relationship, breeding in late winter. The nest is a scrape in a crevice or among rocks. Two eggs are laid and incubated by the female for about 31 days whilst the male provides food. The chicks are then fed by both parents until they leave the nest, but remain reliant on their parents for several more months.


This owl is native to much of northern Africa from Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in the west, through to Mali, Niger, Chad, Libya, Sudan and Egypt. It is also known from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Israel, Jordan and Iraq. Its habitat is open arid country with rocky outcrops, plains, wadis and cliffs.

Where Does it Live?


What is its Status?


Its only notable threat is from local cultures who believe it to be an evil spirit, where it is killed on sight. Its otherwise widespread distribution indicates that it is not currently at risk and no conservation measures specifically targeting this species exist. However, it is found is several protected areas including Azraq Nature Reserve in Jordan.

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