The eagle owls, also known as horned owls, make up the genus Bubo. The most well-known is the Eurasian eagle owl, which is one of the largest species of owl in the world. Its close relative, the great horned owl of North and South America, is another species of eagle owl.
Scientific & Common Names
Genus: Bubo Species: B. bubo
Common Names: Eurasian Eagle Owl, European Eagle Owl, Eagle Owl
One of the largest owl species, the eagle owl can grow to 30 inches in length, with a wingspan of over six feet. Like most other species in the horned owl genus Bubo, the eagle owl features distinctive ear tufts that give it a horned appearance.
There are at least 14 different subspecies of the eagle owl, with variations in coloration, though all are different shades of brownish grey with darker markings. Regardless of subspecies, the eyes are always orange.
Eagle owls usually mate for life. They lay their eggs in rocky areas, and do not actually build a nest, but use existing material or the rocky surface itself. They typically return to the same nesting site every year.
Before the eggs hatch, the female owl is brought food by the male, who hunts for them both. After about a month of incubation, the eggs hatch, and the female will watch over them at the nesting site while the male hunts. After about five weeks, the female will begin to hunt for herself and her young.
The young will begin leaving the nest at about 5 to 7 weeks of age and are usually able to fly around 7 to 8 weeks old.
The eagle owl hunts a wide range of prey, both small and large, including rodents, rabbits, hedgehogs, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and in some cases even young deer.
Like most owls, it is a nocturnal species, hunting at night, especially just after sunset and before sunrise. Eagle owls are fiercely territorial and will often call out to alert other owls of their territory, with a call that can be heard over long distances.
Eagle owls first appeared during the Late Pliocene epoch, around 4 million years ago. In addition to its many subspecies, the Eurasian eagle owl seems to have a number of species which derived from it, including the Pharaoh eagle owl of North Africa, the Indian eagle owl of India, and the Cape eagle owl of Africa. The great horned owl of the Americas is also believed to have derived from the Eurasian eagle owl.
Eurasian eagle owls have a very widespread distribution across Europe and Asia. Estimates of their total worldwide numbers range from 250,000 to 2.5 million birds. Human activities are thought to be negatively affecting these birds, but their large population and broad range means that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature considers them a species of “Least Concern”.