Usambara Eagle-Owl (Bubo vosseleri)

Usambara Eagle-Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Bubo vosseleri | [authority] Reichenow, 1908 | [UK] Usambara Eagle-Owl | [FR] Grand-duc des Usambara | [DE] Usambarauhu | [ES] Buho de Usambara | [NL] Usambaraoehoe


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Bubo vosseleri AF ne Tanzania


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, “eared” owl of forest. Heavily barred, richly-coloured upperparts. Pale underparts, heavily splotched on breast but finely barred on belly and flanks. Orange-brown eyes. Similar spp. Spotted Eagle-owl B. africanus is smaller, with white spotting on wing-coverts, white mantle-edging, and yellow eyes. Voice Series of low pop pop pop notes, rising and falling in crescendo and speed.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 49 cm size max.: 50 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Africa : Northeast Tanzania


Most records are from montane and submontane evergreen forest (800-1500 m), with some from lowland evergreen forest down to 200 m. It is presumed to be a canopy-dwelling species. It may be able to tolerate some human disturbance of forest structure, since it occurs on the forested borders of tea plantations, and several young birds have been found in forest where the understorey has been cleared for cardamom cultivation.


The breeding season is thought to be November-February. The nest-site may be a tree-hole. No further data.

Feeding habits

The diet appears to be exclusively small mammals (rodents, insectivores9 and possibly dwarf bushbabies Galagoides).


This species has a small range, and remaining tracts of its forest habitat are severely fragmented and under great pressure outside protected areas. Its population is therefore suspected to be declining and it is listed as Vulnerable.
Bubo vosseleri is distributed throughout the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, having been recorded from both the East and West Usambara Mountains (including Mt Nilo Forest Reserve), Uluguru North Forest Reserve (above Tegetero)6, Mkungwe Forest Reserve (15 km north-east of the Ulugurus and particularly common), Iwonde Forest in Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Kilombero Nature Reserve (Mt Mufu), and Uzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve (along the Kihanga and Mpimbili rivers and in the Mbawi sector). There are also unconfirmed reports or probable records from three other locations. Records from lowland forest in the Usambaras during October-March suggest that it may be resident there and the total population may thus be higher than the previous estimate of 200-1,000 individuals.
Usambara Eagle-Owl status Vulnerable


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Usambara Eagle-Owl distribution range map

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