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Indian Eagle Owl - Bubo bengalensis

Also known as Rock Eagle Owl, Bengal Eagle Owl

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Calls - Bubo bengalensis
Typical call India © Vijay Cavale

Introduction: The Indian or Rock Eagle Owl is a fairly large owl with prominent brown ear-tufts. Dark and light morphs of this bird occur.

[For help with terms used in the description, see parts of an owl. For general characteristics common to most owl species, see owl physiology.]

Description: The facial disc is fulvous-brown to buffy, with a prominent blackish rim. The eyebrows start out whitish at the centre of the face, and change to a blackish line at a point just above the centre of each eye, and then continue up to the dark ear tufts. the Forehead is buffy brown, with small blackish flecks, which become greater in number towards the crown, giving it a dark appearance. Eyes are Orange-yellow to orange-red, and the bill greenish-horn to slate-black. The Chin and throat are white.
Upperparts are tawny brown, mottled and streaked with blackish brown. There is often a whitish bar across the shoulder.
Wing and Tail feathers are tawny-buff, barred with blackish brown.
Lower parts are fulvous, becoming whitish near the centre. The upper breast has small, dark streaks, with the rest of the underparts having fine streaks and faint cross-bars, which become fainter towards the abdomen.
Legs and toes are feathered fulvous, with the outer joints of the toes being bare, and a greenish-slate colour. The claws are dusky black.

Size: Length 50-56 cm. Wing length males 358-433mm. Tail length 185-227mm. Weight 1100g (weight of one male specimen). Females are larger than males.

Habits: Generally nocturnal. Flies with slow, deliberate wingbeats interspersed with long bouts of gliding on outstretched wings. Usually flies close to the ground. When defending young, adults often resort to diversionary tactics, such as feigning wing injury.

Voice:  Male has a deep, resonant, double hoot bu-whooh, repeated at intervals of several seconds. The female's song is similar, with a slightly higher pitch. At the nest both sexes with may make a clucking noise, or a series of huwoo-huwoo sounds - again, the female is slightly higher in pitch.

Hunting & Food: Bengal Eagle Owls usually hunt from a perch, but will also make low foraging flights to dive on prey. They primarily hunt rats and mice, but will also take birds up to the size of peafowl. They will also eat reptiles, frogs, crabs and large insects.
Pellets are up to 150 x 40mm.

Breeding: Generally, these Owls will breed from February to April, but this may vary locally between October and May.
The nest is usually a shallow scrape on bare earth. This may be on a protected rock ledge, river bank, or a recess in a cliff that is in a ravine. They have also been known to nest on the ground under a bush, or between rocks on a slope. 2-4 white eggs are laid, averaging 53.6 x 43.8mm. They are incubated by the female for 35 days.

Habitat: Rocky Hills with bushes, earth banks, wooded county with ravines, semi-deserts with rocks and bushes. They have been known to inhabit old Mango orchards close to human populations.

Distribution: West Himalayas, Pakistan, throughout India, Kashmir, Nepal, Assam and Burma.

Distribution of Indian Eagle Owl - Bubo bengalensis
Distribution of the Indian Eagle Owl Bubo bengalensis

Status: Uncertain, not uncommon in suitable habitats

Original Description: Franklin, James. 1831. Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London (PZS): Pt. 1, no. 10, p 115.


del Hoyo, Elliott & Sargatal. 1999. "Handbook of the Birds of the World: Barn Owls to Hummingbirds". Buteo Books
Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol & Inskipp, Tim. 1999. "Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives". Princeton University Press
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press
König, Weick and Becking. 1999. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World". Yale University Press
Mikkola, Heimo. 2012. "Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide". Bloomsbury

Page Information:

Page compiled by . Page last updated 2013-10-02 Owl Species ID: 090.040.000

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