Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Eagle-owl (Bubo bubo)


French: Grand-duc d’Europe German: Uhu Spanish: Búho real

Strix Bubo


, 1758,



Thought to form a species-group with B. virginianus (including recently separated B. magellanicus), B. ascalaphus and B. bengalensis, perhaps including also B. capensis. Sometimes considered to include ascalaphus and bengalensis as races; appears to intergrade with former in parts of Middle East, suggesting that conspecificity perhaps not impossible. Race interpositus has been suggested as a separate species on basis of DNA analysis, but samples presumably small; this form interbreeds freely with B. ascalaphus, and turcomanus hybridizes with B. bengalensis, in both cases producing fertile young#R. Geographical boundaries of races obscured throughout by intergrading populations. Large number of additional races named, some representing no more than individual variation or intermediates: e.g. populations described from Bashkirskaya region of SW Russia (baschkiricus) included in sibiricus; from L Zaysan region (zaissanensis) in yenisseensis; from N Mongolia (dauricus) and NE China (inexpectatus) in ussuriensis; from SE Yunnan (jarlandi), Sichuan (setschuanus), SE China (swinhoei) and Korea (tenuipes) in kiautschensis. Sixteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. b. hispanus Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – Iberian Peninsula; formerly also Atlas Mts in NW Africa (probably extinct).
  • B. b. bubo (Linnaeus, 1758) – Europe from N Spain and Scandinavia E to W Russia (E to about Gorkiy).
  • B. b. ruthenus Buturlin & Zhitkov, 1906 – C European Russia E to foothills of Ural Mts, S to lower Volga Basin.
  • B. b. interpositus Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – from Romania and S Ukraine E to Volga Delta, S to Greece, Turkey, Middle East (S to C Israel and Jordan) and NW Iran.
  • B. b. sibiricus (Gloger, 1833) – from W foothills of Urals E to R Ob, S to W Altai.
  • B. b. yenisseensis Buturlin, 1911 – C Siberia from R Ob E to L Baikal, S to Altai and N Mongolia.
  • B. b. turcomanus (Eversmann, 1835) – steppes between lower R Volga and R Ural, E to Transbaikalia and S to Kazakhstan and W Mongolia.
  • B. b. tarimensis Buturlin, 1906 – extreme NW China (Tarim Basin in NW Xinjiang).
  • B. b. omissus Dementiev, 1932 – Turkmenistan to W China (Chinese Turkestan).
  • B. b. hemachalanus A. O. Hume, 1873 – from Pamirs and N Tien Shan S to Himalayas.
  • B. b. nikolskii Zarudny, 1905 – E Iraq and Iran, Afghanistan, and N & W Pakistan.
  • B. b. jakutensis Buturlin, 1908 – NE Siberia.
  • B. b. ussuriensis Poliakov, 1915 – SE Siberia to NE China.
  • B. b. kiautschensis Reichenow, 1903 – from C & S China (S to Yunnan and Guangdong) E to Korea.
  • B. b. tibetanus Bianchi, 1906 – C & E Tibet and other adjacent parts of S China.
  • B. b. borissowi Hesse, 1915 – Sakhalin and S Kuril Is (S from Urup), and N Japan (N Hokkaido).
  • Descriptive notes

    58–71 cm; male 1550–2800 g, female 2280–4200 g; wingspan 160–188 cm. Large to huge (world's heaviest owl), almost barrel-shaped, with... read more


    Male’s territorial call a deep, booming “ooo-hu”, first syllable... read more


    Mostly inhabits areas of sparse human settlement or of topographically inaccessible terrain such as... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly mammals, from size of water vole (Arvicola) to adult hares (Lepus), and birds from size of jay (Garrulus... read more


    Season Feb–Aug in Scandinavia; laying from Dec in France. Monogamous; solitary. Nest on sheltered cliff ledge or in crevice, in cave... read more


    Resident in most of range; juveniles disperse variable distances; natal dispersal of radio-... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Uncommon to scarce or rare throughout range. Total European population (including W Russia and Turkey) in mid-1990s... 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. (2020). Eurasian Eagle-owl (Bubo bubo). 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 6 April 2020).