Indian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bengalensis)

Indian Eagle-Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Bubo bengalensis | [authority] Franklin, 1831 | [UK] Indian Eagle-Owl | [FR] Grand Duc du Bengale | [DE] Bengalenuhu | [ES] Buho Bengali | [NL] Bengaalse oehoe


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Bubo bengalensis OR Indian subcontinent


Members of the genus Bubo are the largest of the owls. Heavily built with powerful talons they are recognisable by their size, their prominent ear-tufts, and their eyes that vary in colour from yellow to brown but are frequently vivid orange. The genus, including the Asian fish owls of the genus Ketupa – now believed to be part of Bubo – comprises of 20 species ranging Eurasia, Indonesia, Africa and the Americas. DNA evidence suggests that the Snowy Owls of Nyctea and the fish owls of Scotopelia are also candidates for inclusion in this genus.

Physical charateristics

The facial disc is fulvous-brown to buffy, with a prominent blackish rim. The eyebrows are start out whitish at the centre of the face, and change to a blackish line at a point just above the centre of each eye, and then continue up to the dark ear tufts. the Forehead is buffy brown, with small blackish flecks, which become greater in number towards the crown, giving it a dark appearance. Eyes are Orange-yellow to orange-red, and the bill greenish-horn to slate-black. The Chin and throat are white.
Upperparts are tawny brown, mottled and streaked with blackish brown. There is often a whitish bar across the shoulder.
Wing and Tail feathers are tawny-buff, barred with blackish brown.
Lower parts are fulvous, becoming whitish near the centre. The upper breast has small, dark streaks, with the rest of the underparts having fine streaks and faint cross-bars, which become fainter towards the abdomen.
Legs and toes are feathered fulvous, with the outer joints of the toes being bare, and a greenish-slate colour. The claws are dusky black.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 55 cm size max.: 57 cm
incubation min.: 33 days incubation max.: 35 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Oriental Region : Indian subcontinent. The Bengalese Eagle Owl is found throughout the mainland of the Indian sub-continent, from the Western Himalayas and Pakistan to Burma in the east and to the tip of Kerala in the south. It is not present on Sri Lanka.


Rocky Hills with bushes, earth banks, wooded county with ravines, semi-deserts with rocks and bushes. They have been known to inhabit old Mango orchards close to human populations.


Generally, these Owls will breed from February to April, but this may vary locally between October and May. The nest is usually a shallow scrape on bare earth. This may be on a protected rock ledge, river bank, or a recess in a cliff that is in a ravine. They have also been known to nest on the ground under a bush, or between rocks on a slope. 2-4 white eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female for 35 days.

Feeding habits

Indian Eagle Owls usually hunt from a perch, but will also make low foraging flights to dive on prey. They primarily hunt rats and mice, but will also take birds up to the size of peafowl. They will also eat reptiles, frogs, crabs and large insects.

Video Indian Eagle-Owl


copyright: Martin Kennewell


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The Indian Eagle Owl is smaller than, but very similar in appearance to the Eurasian Eagle Owl, to such an extent that it is believed by some to be a race of that species. Its wings are more pointed that those of its larger relative, and the tips of its toes unfeathered. It may also be possible to confuse it with the Brown Fish Owl, although the latter has unfeathered lower legs and toes, yellow eyes, and less tidy ear-tufts. Although generally a nocturnal bird, it can often be seen before sunset and after sunrise. During daylight hours it is more likely to roost in a crevice between rocks or in a well sheltered place on a cliff-face or even in an abandoned building. It generally flies close to the ground with slow, heavy wing beats punctuated by longish spells of gliding.
Indian Eagle-Owl status Least Concern



Distribution map

Indian Eagle-Owl distribution range map

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