Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Pharaoh Eagle-owl (Bubo ascalaphus)


French: Grand-duc ascalaphe German: Wüstenuhu Spanish: Búho desértico
Other common names: Desert Eagle-owl

Bubo Ascalaphus


, 1809,

Upper Egypt


Thought to be part of the B. bubo species-group (see that species). Formerly treated as conspecific with B. bubo; separation based mainly on vocalizations, and partly on morphology, but DNA evidence not conclusive; also, appears to intergrade with B. bubo in parts of Middle East, suggesting that conspecificity perhaps possible; on the other hand, some range overlap without known intermediates with B. bubo race hispanus in NW Africa (although latter now presumed extinct there); further study warranted. S populations (Sahara to Arabia and S Iraq) sometimes separated as race desertorum, but this better considered a pale colour morph (which more frequent in S). Monotypic.


NW Africa and N Egypt E to Jordan and N to C Iraq#R, S in Sahara to Mauritania and Niger and to C Sudan and Eritrea (possibly N Ethiopia), and Arabian Peninsula.

Descriptive notes

45–50 cm; male c. 1900 g, female c. 2300 g. Facial disc light tawny-rufous with darker rim; tawny head and neck streaked with dark brown; upperparts tawny with black... read more


Single deep, downslurred “whu”; in courtship also 3-note hoot; voice slightly higher... read more


Rocky desert hills, mountains and wadis with gorges and cliffs, and open desert with rock outcrops... read more

Food and feeding

Small mammals, especially rodents, with gerbils (Gerbillus) favoured prey; also birds, amphibians (rarely), reptiles and various... read more


Lays Jan–Mar, one suspected case of double brooding in Egypt in which nestlings found on same territory had estimated hatching dates... read more


Resident; presumably some wandering by juveniles.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Little information on population levels, and none on population trends, but probably not uncommon in most of range. In S... 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., de Juana, E. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Pharaoh Eagle-owl (Bubo ascalaphus). 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 14 December 2019).