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Spotted Eagle Owl

Bubo africanus


40 - 45cm

1 - 1.4m

454 - 907g

10 yrs





The spotted eagle owl is the most common eagle owl species of southern Africa. When compared with other eagle owls it is one of the smallest, despite otherwise being considered a medium-sized owl. However, its impressive wingspan can reach up to one metre or more. It is sometimes fully referred to as the African spotted eagle owl.

Least Concern




The facial disk is off-white with fine dark barring and a blackish rim. Its yellow eyes are a prominent feature, as are its large ear tufts. The upperparts are dusky brown with whitish buff spots which give the species its name. The underparts are whitish with fine dark bars, whilst the upper breast has several dark greyish-brown blotches and the belly is nearly plain white.

What Does it Look Like?


What Does it Sound Like?


The male’s song involves a deep "wuhuhu-whooh" preceded by several double-noted hoots - "buo-hooh buo-hooh". The female's song is higher in pitch. When duetting, the male and female sing together, giving the impression that only one owl is singing. Both sexes also give single hoots at different volumes, usually when alarmed.


It preys on small mammals, birds, insects, frogs, and reptiles, which it will generally consume whole. Larger prey will be shredded using its talons, which it can then feed to its young if necessary. It generally hunts by gliding down from a perch, and has been known to take larger insects and bats mid-flight. Very rarely, it will feed on carrion left by vultures.

What Does it Eat?


Where Does it Nest?


The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground in a sheltered spot amongst rocks. The same site may be used for several years. 2-4 white eggs are incubated by the female, whilst the male hunts for food. Incubation last 1 month and chicks start leaving the nest at about 4-6 weeks old. They soon learn to fly, but will be cared for by their parents for a further 5 weeks.


Their range is large, extending south throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa from Kenya and Uganda. The are also found on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. They live in woodland, savanna or rocky hillsides, provided there are trees and bushes present. However, grassland or scrub is preferred. They have also been known to inhabit semi-deserts.

Where Does it Live?


What is its Status?


Their large, widespread population means there are no specific threats. The largest causes of death are accidental collisions with manmade objects like power cables, barbed wire and vehicles. Although it is illegal to keep these owls in most south African countries, many keep youngsters as pets where they may be raised irresponsibly.

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