Shelleys Eagle-Owl (Bubo shelleyi)

Shelleys Eagle-Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Bubo shelleyi | [authority] Sharpe and Ussher, 1872 | [UK] Shelleys Eagle-Owl | [FR] Grand duc bruyant | [DE] Bindenuhu | [ES] Buho Barrado | [NL] Shelley’s Oehoe


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Bubo shelleyi AF w, c


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

Large very dark barred eagle-owl. Facial disk cream, dusky barred with black edges. Head brown, upperparts dark brown with buff bars. Tail is barred dusky and buff. Breat and belly creamy white, broadly barred dusk.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 60 cm size max.: 63 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
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Africa : West, Central


It is one of the most poorly known owls in Africa, and its ecology and behaviour are largely unknown; it has been recorded from inside forest, on forest edge and in clearings, in lowland areas. Its full range of vocalisations have not been documented, which is probably a factor in the paucity of records.


The timing of breeding is not clear, although intense calling has been noted in March, nestlings have been seen in September-November and fledged juveniles have been observed, or possibly observed, in December.

Feeding habits

It has been observed eating a large flying squirrel, and its large size and powerful feet suggest a diet of medium-sized to large pre


This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to have a moderately small population which may be in decline owing to the clearance of its habitat for timber and agriculture. However, further information is required on habitat trends and population structure.
Bubo shelleyi is a large, rare forest owl known from scattered locations from Sierra Leone to northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)1. It is known from the following sites: Gola (Sierra Leone); Lofa-Mano, Mt Nimba, Zwedru, Balagizi Mts (Liberia); Tai, Mt Nimba (contiguous with Mt Nimba in Liberia) (Cote d’Ivoire); Ghana (two old records only4); ‘south’ Cameroon1; Ipassa Strict Nature Reserve (Gabon); Dimonika Biosphere Reserve (Congo); Okapi Faunal Reserve (DRC). B. shelleyi is the largest African forest owl, and may thus require large areas of good quality habitat and thus have a small population, possibly below 10,000 individuals
Shelleys Eagle-Owl status Near Threatened


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Shelleys Eagle-Owl distribution range map

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