Pharaoh Eagle-Owl (Bubo ascalaphus)

Pharaoh Eagle-Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Bubo ascalaphus | [authority] Savigny, 1809 | [UK] Pharaoh Eagle-Owl | [FR] Grand Duc du desert | [DE] Wustenuhu | [ES] Buho Desertico | [NL] Woestijn oehoe


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Bubo ascalaphus AF nw AF to Arabian Peninsula


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

One of the smaller eagle-owl species, the pharaoh eagle-owl is an attractive bird of prey with striking, large orange-yellow eyes and mottled plumage. The head and upperparts are tawny and densely marked with black and creamy-white streaks and blotches, while the underparts are pale creamy-white, with black streaks on the upper breast and fine reddish-brown vermiculations on the lower breast and belly. The face has the disc-like form typical of most owls, defined by a dark rim, the robust bill is black and hooked, and the head is crowned with small ear tufts. There are two recognised subspecies of pharaoh eagle-owl, Bubo ascalaphus ascalaphus and Bubo ascalaphus desertorum , the latter being smaller and paler with sandier colouration

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 46 cm size max.: 50 cm
incubation min.: 31 days incubation max.: 36 days
fledging min.: 30 days fledging max.: 35 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : Northwest Africa to Arabian Peninsula. Distributed throughout much of North Africa and the Middle East, subspecies Bubo ascalaphus ascalaphus occupies the northern part of this species range, being found in north-west Africa and northern Egypt, east to western Iraq. By contrast, Bubo ascalaphus desertorum can be found in the Sahara Desert, from Western Sahara, east, to Sudan, as well as in Eritrea, Ethiopia and much of the Arabian Peninsula, as far south as northern Oman


The pharaoh eagle-owl is generally found in arid habitats, including open desert plains, rocky outcrops, mountain cliffs and wadis


The pharaoh eagle-owl forms monogamous, lifelong breeding pairs, which mate in late winter, with egg-laying taking place in February and March.Nests are usually constructed in shallow scrapes amongst rocks or in crevices. In Egypt this species has been recorded nesting on at least one of the pyramids. A clutch of 2 eggs is usually laid, which are incubated by the female for around 31 to 36 days, while the male brings food. The young leave the nest after 20 to 35 days, but may not fully fledge for another month, and may remain dependent on the parent birds until half a year old

Feeding habits

Small mammals are most commonly taken, but snakes, lizards, birds, beetles and scorpions may all be part of this species’ diet. Perch hunter.

Video Pharaoh Eagle-Owl


copyright: Dc.Owl


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.
Pharaoh Eagle-Owl status Least Concern


Presumed resident

Distribution map

Pharaoh Eagle-Owl distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *