The Owl Pages

Fraser's Eagle Owl ~ Bubo poensis


The Fraser's Eagle Owl is a medium-sized owl with tousled ear-tufts.

Photo Gallery (2 pictures)

  • Fraser's Eagle Owl
  • Fraser's Eagle Owl


Description: The facial disc is pale rufous, with a broad dusky rim. The eyebrows are paler than the surrounding plumage. The prominent ear-tufts are tousled. The eyes are dark brown, with pale bluish eyelids. The bill and cere are pale bluish-grey. The chin is whitish, and is rather prominent when the bird is calling.
The upperparts are rufous and buffish-brown, barred with dusky-brown. The scapulars have pale buffish to creamy-whitish, dark-edged outer webs, giving the impression of a row of pale dots across the shoulder. Flight and tail feathers are narrowly barred pale brownish-buff and darker brown. Underparts are pale rufous transitioning to whitish on the belly and undertail-coverts, with rufous-edged dark wavy markings. The feathers on the upper breast have broad dusky tips, giving a dark-blotched effect. Tarsi are feathered to the base of the toes, and are faintly and densely barred. Toes are bluish-grey with blackish-brown claws.
The degree of rufous coloration and the density of the barring may vary greatly between individuals.

Size: Length 39-44cm. Wing length 276-333mm. Weight 575-815g. Females are larger and heavier than males.

Habits: Fraser's Eagle Owl is a nocturnal bird, becoming active at dusk. Roosts by day within tree foliage up to about 40m above the ground. Singing is done mainly at dusk and the early evening, as well as before dawn.

Voice: The song of the male is a double hoot with the second note higher in pitch and more whistled - twow-ooht. These hoots are repeated at intervals of 3-4 seconds. The male also utters a long series of staccato pu-notes in rapid succession - pupupupupupupupupupupu... lasting 15-20 seconds. The female gives a higher pitched version of this call that is more hoarse with phrases only lasting 4-5 seconds, and having a slightly more rapid succession of notes and stuttering character. Male and female duet during courtship.
A single soft mewing note wooh is sometimes given by both sexes. There is also a reported moaning sound that is likely a begging call.

Hunting & Food: Fraser's Eagle Owl feeds on small mammals, such as mice, squirrels, bats and galagos (bushbabies). This owl also takes birds, frogs and reptiles as well as insects and other arthropods. Hunting is done mostly from a perch.

Breeding: Little is known of this owl's breeding biology. Laying is estimated to be in February and May in Liberia, November in Ghana, July-December in Cameroon, August and December in Congo, and March in Uganda. There is evidence that they may nest on the ground as well as in tree hollows. Eggs are pure white. Young seem to depend on the parents for an unusually long time after fledging, and do not acquire full plumage until about one year old.

Habitat: Mainly lowland primary evergreen rainforest, forest edges and clearings within forest, secondary forest and cardamom plantations. Ranges from sea-level up to about 1600m.

Distribution: From Bioko Island in the Gulf of Biafra and tropical forested west Africa eastwards to Congo and southwest Uganda, south to extreme northwest Angola.

Range of Fraser's Eagle Owl (Bubo poensis)
Range of the Fraser's Eagle Owl Bubo poensis

Status: Uncertain, probably threatened.

Original Description: Fraser, Louis. 1854. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1853) (PZS): Pt. 21. no. 248, p. 13, 14.

Borrow, Nik & Demey, Ron. 2001. "A guide to the birds of western Africa". Princeton University Press.
Boyer and Hume. 1991. "Owls of the World". BookSales Inc.
del Hoyo, Elliott & Sargatal. 1999. "Handbook of the Birds of the World: Barn Owls to Hummingbirds". Buteo Books.
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press.

See also: Other owls from Africa, Genus: Bubo.

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2015-10-25.