Eurasian Eagle Owl

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Details About The Eurasian Eagle Owl

  • General Information

    One of the largest owls in the world, Eurasian Eagle Owls are similar in appearance to Great Horned Owls. Their feathers are a tawny color with brown and black striping or mottling. The facial disc is a tawny color, the iris is orange, and the bill is black. Males and females are similar, although females are larger.

    Latin Name: Bubo bubo
    Class: Aves
    Order: Strigiformes
    Family: Strigidae
    Length: 23-30 inches
    Weight: 3.5-9 pounds
    Wingspan: 42-84 inches
    Common Name: European Eagle Owl, Common Eagle Owl, Great Eagle Owl, Northern Eagle Owl
    Etymology: bubo (Latin) - "horned or hooting owl"

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    Eurasian Eagle Owls have the silent flight characteristic of owls. Their flight is shallow wingbeats with periods of gliding interspersed when flying over long distances. Due to their large size, they will also soar on updrafts similar to buteos.

    These owls are heard much more often than they are seen and have a variety of calls, all loud. Their call is a deep oohu-oohu-oohu with the female’s call higher than the male’s. During mating season, males and females will duet, and the females sometimes make a coarse kraah sound. Chicks make the same kraah sound.

    Eurasians are found in wooded habitats with cliffs or rocky areas, in coniferous forests, warm deserts, mountains and riverbeds, and are sometimes found in more open habitats with some trees, such as taiga, farmlands, steppes, semi-arid areas, and grasslands. They have been observed living in cities when prey is plentiful, or hunting rodents in open landfills.

  • Nesting

    Rocky landscapes are often the site for Eurasian Eagle Owl nesting. Like most owls, they do not build a nest; instead they will scratch a shallow depression on rock ledges or cave floors. They will also sometimes use tree cavities or old abandoned nests of eagles or hawks. The male attracts the female by scratching a depression and calling to the female with staccato notes and clucking sounds. He will often offer several potential sites, and the female will select one. 1-4 eggs are laid at 3-day intervals. Number of eggs are dependent on food supply. Eggs are incubated for 31-36 days, primarily by the female while the male provides food. Chicks fledge at 7-8 weeks, or as early as 5 weeks if the nest is on or low to the ground. The chicks are fed by the parents for 20-24 weeks.

  • Distribution

    The Eurasian Eagle Owl is native to northern Europe east across to Siberia. They are also found in the Mediterranean region and northern Africa east through Pakistan, northern India, Tibet, China and Korea. They are locally endangered due to deforestation and habitat loss. They are non-migratory and have been shot and trapped extensively.

  • Food

    A crepuscular or nocturnal hunter, Eurasian Eagle Owls will eat a wide variety of prey, ranging from beetles to deer fawns. They primarily eat mammals (voles, mice, rats, rabbits, opposums, foxes, fawns, etc.), and also birds (crows, pigeons, ducks, quail, pheasant, grouse, shorebirds, and other owls). They will also prey on snakes, lizards, insects, frogs, fish and crabs. They hunt from a perch or with low flight over the ground. They can dive into water to catch prey.

  • Current Resident Birds

    Queen Beatrice, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, is a non-native species captive bred in Martha's vineyard, Mass., and moved to Carolina Raptor Center in 2010. Bea is one of the stars of Carolina Raptor Center's summer flight show. She flies overhead, delighting crowds and sharing the wonder of flight with our visitors.


    Black Bart, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, is a non-native species captive bred in New York State and moved to Carolina Raptor Center in 2010. Bart is a member of the education team at CRC, traveling to many of the hundreds of programs each year delivered by our educators at schools, libraries and organizations through the region. His "pirate" name was provided by Volunteer Anne Steinert in honor of her father.

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    The Eurasian Eagle Owl's orange eyes make this largest owl in the world even more striking. Hello there, orange eyes!

    With its prominent ear tufts and brilliant orange eyes, the Eurasian Eagle Owl is well known to many as Draco Malfoy’s owl in the popular Harry Potter movies.