Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Cape Eagle-owl (Bubo capensis)


French: Grand-duc du Cap German: Kapuhu Spanish: Búho de El Cabo
Other common names: Mackinder's Eagle-owl (mackinderi)

Bubo Capensis

A. Smith

, 1834,

near Cape Town, South Africa


Has been thought to be part of the B. bubo species-group (see that species, above), but seems more distantly related. Race mackinderi has been considered a full species, but differences minor. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. c. dillonii Des Murs & Prévost, 1846 – S Eritrea and Ethiopian Highlands.
  • B. c. mackinderi Sharpe, 1899 – WC Kenya S to Zimbabwe and W Mozambique.
  • B. c. capensis A. Smith, 1834 – South Africa and Namibia#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    48–58 cm; male 900–1400 g, female 1200–1800 g; wingspan 120–125 cm. Large, with long ear tufts. Generally dark brown. Facial disc pale buff-brown with... read more


    Deep hoot, “hoooo-ho”, first note loud and second weak; also gives a 3-note “hu-... read more


    Wooded valleys, low cliffs and ravines, in rocky mountainous terrain; found at elevations of 2400... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mid-sized mammals, mainly hares and hyraxes, but including bats, rats and mole-rats; also birds, especially pigeons and gamebirds, but up... read more


    Lays Jul–Mar in E Africa, Jul in S Africa; in SW Cape in Jun–Aug, in E Cape Aug–Sept; irregular breeder, attempting every... read more


    Generally resident, but adults sometimes move from territory outside of breeding season. Young... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Generally uncommon to rare, and very local; more common in some places, e.g. Mau Plateau in SW Kenya, but easily overlooked... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Cape Eagle-owl (Bubo capensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).