birding trip Indian birdwatch

Indian Eagle Owl ~ Bubo bengalensis


Indian eagle owl, It is also known as the Rock Eagle Owl or the Bengal Eagle Owl, is a species of owl that is closely related to the European eagle owl (once classified as its subspecies). The Indian Eagle Owl is a fairly large owl with prominent brown ear-tufts. Dark and light morphs of this bird occur. Orange Eyes and Physical Appearance

As its name suggests – Indian eagle owl can be found across the Indian subcontinent.


The facial disc is fulvous-brown to buffy, with a prominent blackish rim. The eyebrows 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.

Size: Length 50-56 cm. Wing length 358-433mm. Tail length 185-227mm. Weight 1100g (weight of one male specimen). Females are larger than males.

Habits: Generally nocturnal. Flies with slow, deliberate wingbeats interspersed with long bouts of gliding on outstretched wings. Usually flies close to the ground. When defending young, adults often resort to diversionary tactics, such as feigning wing injury.

Voice: Male has a deep, resonant, double hoot bu-whooh, repeated at intervals of several seconds. The female’s song is similar, with a slightly higher pitch. At the nest both sexes with may make a clucking noise, or a series of huwoo-huwoo sounds – again, the female is slightly higher in pitch.

Hunting & Food: 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. Pellets are up to 150 x 40mm.

Breeding: 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, averaging 53.6 x 43.8mm. They are incubated by the female for 35 days.

Habitat: 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.

Distribution: West Himalayas, Pakistan, throughout India, Kashmir, Nepal, Assam and Burma.

Status: Uncertain, not uncommon in suitable habitats.

Interesting Indian eagle-owl Facts:

Photo by : Anu Kusumakar Kadri

Indian eagle-owl inhabits rocky hills, semi-deserts, mango orchards and wooded scrublands.

People in some parts of India believe that beating of hungry Indian eagle owl can force this bird to speak and predict destiny of its tormentor.

Despite organized hunting due to false beliefs, number of Indian eagle owls is stable in the wild and this bird is not on the list of endangered animals.

Indian eagle owl can grow to the height of 19 to 22 inches and reach 39 to 70 ounces of weight. Females are larger than males.

Upper part of Indian eagle owl is dark colored, covered with brown, black and white feathers. Lower part of the body is pale and covered with dark colored stripes. Indian eagle owls can be lighter or darker colored, depending on the habitat.

Rapid Growth

A lot of animals, just like humans, take years to attain the mature size of adults. Indian eagle owls, on the other hand, are pretty speedy in the physical development department. By the time they’re around 10 weeks in age, they usually are adult-sized, though they’re not mature yet.

The feathers of the Owls help blend them into their habitat and makes them almost impossible to detect in some cases.

Orange Eyes and Physical Appearance

One cool Indian eagle owl fact involves their eyes, which have a striking orange coloration that creates a major contrast to the rest of their bodies, which are rather subdued in comparison.

Other cool aspects of their physical appearance involve the conspicuous brown tufts of feathers on their ears and the white coloration over their throats.

Indian eagle-owl has a wingspan of 50 to 60 inches. When in the air, Indian eagle owl combines active flying with passive gliding. It often flies close to the ground. Indian eagle owls pretend to have wing injury or fly in a zigzag manner when they want to distract predators and to keep them away from their offspring.

Indian eagle owl is crepuscular animal (active in the dusk and dawn). Indian eagle owl is a carnivore (meat-eater). Its diet is based on rodents, reptiles, crabs, amphibians and large invertebrates.

Indian eagle owl does not swallow its prey in one piece. It tears apart its prey before it swallows it.


Indian eagle owl produces resonant, loud, two-note “whooo” calls that can be heard at dusk and dawn. During the nesting season, both males and females produce clicks. The signature vocalization of Indian eagle owls is low, full-bodied, clear and ringing.

Their calls are often associated with misfortune. If a specimen vocalizes from the roof of a residence, it is thought to indicate the upcoming passing away of a member of the household. People believe that Indian eagle owl predicts death.

Mating season of Indian eagle owl lasts from October to May. Female nests in the shallow scrapes in the ground, or in the rock ledge and river bank and lays 2 to 5 creamy white eggs. Incubation period lasts 35 days.

Indian eagle owls are covered with white feathers when they hatch. They communicate via clicks and hisses. Young birds spread their wings when they want to trick predators that they are bigger than they actually are.

Indian eagle owls reach adult size at the age of 10 weeks, but they depend on their parent until the age of 6 months. Indian eagle owl can survive 25 to 30 years in the wild.

Information source:

Original Description: Franklin, James. 1831.

Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London (PZS): Pt. 1, no. 10, p 115.

By Anu Kusumakar Kadri

Dear friends,
Thank you very much your valuable visit here. I'm Anu Kusumakar Kadri from Bangalore. A wildlife photographer, Bird cinematographer, nature lover, and explorer. Yoga teacher, mother of two teenagers, home maker. And new blogger.
In my blog you can expect my experience in the nature, few travel blogs, more about birds, mostly all Birds of India.
I share original photos and videos of birds, wildlife and nature in general observed in my visits,or trips. I try to capture the wonderful and daily life of nature and the unique moments in which birds interact or reveal unusual behaviour. Some videos are surprising and fun, beautiful and shocking, but always real and WILD and ORIGINAL.
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Anu Kusumakar Kadri??

2 replies on “Indian Eagle Owl ~ Bubo bengalensis”

Very nice stills and video capture.
The stills are perfectly bright and gives it’s true colours.
The description is equally good and elaborate, giving it’s full characteristics and features.
Keep it up??

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