Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Spotted Eagle-owl (Bubo africanus)


French: Grand-duc africain German: Fleckenuhu Spanish: Búho africano
Other common names: Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl (milesi)

Strix africana


, 1821,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Often considered to include B. cinerascens as a race, but the two differ in morphology and not known to interbreed where ranges overlap. Taxonomic status of form milesi, significantly isolated in Arabia, is uncertain: more tawny in colour and smaller than nominate and tanae, and its vocalizations differ (though fuller details required); possibly specifically distinct. Race tanae perhaps only a pale variant, as is form described from Namibia (trothae). Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. a. milesi Sharpe, 1886 – SW Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.
  • B. a. africanus (Temminck, 1821) – Gabon E to DRCongo (S of rainforest), S Uganda and C Kenya, S to the Cape (South Africa).
  • B. a. tanae Keith & Twomey, 1968 – R Tana and Lali Hills, in SE Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    40–45 cm; male 490–620 g, female 640–850 g; wingspan 100–113 cm. Rather small eagle-owl with long, erect ear tufts. Facial disc grey with faint white... read more


    Male gives “hoo-hoo”, second note lower, followed by 3-note hoot plus longer note, also... read more


    Variety of habitats, from rocky outcrops in desert to woodland with sparse ground cover:... read more

    Food and feeding

    Opportunist, taking mainly arthropods, small mammals and birds. Large number of different types of prey recorded: arthropods include... read more


    Lays in Jul–Feb; mainly Jul–Oct in S Africa. Monogamous, probably pairs for life. Nest a shallow scrape, usually on ground... read more


    Generally resident; local vertical movements recorded in Malawi, moving to higher elevations during... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. No data on global numbers of population trends, but no indication that numbers are declining significantly. Widespread... 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). Spotted Eagle-owl (Bubo africanus). 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 10 December 2019).