European Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo)  


Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family:    Strigidae
Size:    Height: 24 to 30 inches (61 to 76 cm)   Wingspan: 5 to 6 feet  (1.5 to 1.8 m)
Weight: 5 to 7 pounds (2.26 to 3.2 kg)
Diet: Small mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects and spiders
Distribution: Northern Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East
Young:  2 to 4 owlets, once per year
Animal Predators:  None
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Owlet  Group: Parliament
Lifespan: Up to 20 years in the wild and more than 60 years in captivity



·      When threatened, these owls sometimes bark or growl.

·      The European eagle owl is the largest owl in Europe. 

·      Although they can see during the day, they have better vision at night.

·      They are also sometimes known as “Eurasian eagle owls.” 



These impressive looking owls are known for their intricately coloured markings. Their head is beige with ripples of black; there are splotches of white, black, beige and yellow on their neck area, and their ears are thickly tufted. Their back and upper tail area have dark waves and ripples mixed with beige and grey, while the belly area has stripes of dark brown and beige, fading down into delicate lines of brown and black on a beige background. They have bright orange eyes and their large bill and strong claws are black. Females are larger than males. 



Although they are most often called European eagle owls, these owls are also found in northern Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. They live in a variety of different habitats ranging from forests to deserts, ravines, river valleys and rocky cliff areas. 


Feeding Habits

Eagle owls often eat their prey whole, later regurgitating the indigestible items such as fur, feathers, teeth, and/or bones. They eat a wide variety of prey, including rabbits, hares, voles, rats, mice, birds, snakes, squirrels, cats, amphibians, reptiles and in coastal areas, they dine mainly on seabirds and ducks. Basically, they will feed on whatever prey is available, but usually concentrate on animals that are the size of rabbits or smaller. 



European eagle owls usually mate for life at the age of two to three. Once paired, the male sings to the female and begins to search for potential nesting sites, calling out to her when he has found something suitable. She inspects the site, and when he has found one she approves of, they begin to build a nest in that spot, or if there is already a nest, they may make a few changes before moving in. Rock crevices, cliff ledges with sufficient shelter, and cave entrances in cliffs are the preferred sites, but in the absence of these, they may find a ground nest between rocks, or another sheltered spot on, or near the ground. The female lays up to four eggs in three day intervals and she incubates them for 31 to 36 days, until the last egg is hatched. During this time the male brings food back to the nest and feeds her. For the first two to three weeks after the owlets have hatched, the male leaves food at the nest for the female to feed to them. By the time they are three weeks of age, they begin to feed themselves. At five weeks they can walk, and at seven weeks, they begin their first attempts at flight. The parents teach them to hunt and how to be fully independent by the time they are five to six months old. 



When threatened, eagle owls hiss and puff out their feathers in order to look as large as possible. At dusk, they make their deep, throaty call of  woo-hoo to set the limits of their territory. The call of the female is slightly higher pitched than that of the male. 



Although not listed by the IUCN, habitat loss has led to a decrease in the numbers of the European eagle owl. They have become uncommon through most of their range. 



Eagle Owl Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US