Rock eagle-owl

   ›      ›   Rock eagle-owl - Bubo bengalensis.

The rock eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis) belongs to the family of typical owls, Strigidae.

These owl species are distributed in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Myanmar. The populations in Myanmar may be extinct. Vagrant populations of the rock eagle-owl occur in Bangladesh. These owl species are monotypic.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Rock Eagle-owl Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Rock eagle-owl - Overview

  • Scientific name: Bubo bengalensis
  • Species author: (Franklin, 1831)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Otus Bengalensis Franklin, 1831
  • Family: Strigidae › Strigiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Rock eagle-owl, Chinese: 印度雕鸮, French: Grand-duc indien, German: Bengalenuhu, Spanish: Búho bengalí, Russian: Бенгальский филин, Japanese: ミナミワシミミズク
  • Other names: Indian Eagle-Owl, Indian Great Horned Owl
  • Distribution: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar
  • Diet and feeding habits: Small mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, frogs, fish, crabs, large insects
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The rock eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis) is closely related to Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) and spotted eagle-owl (Bubo africanus).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The rock eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis) is a large owl, measuring 50 to 60 cm in length and weighing about 1100 grams.

The rock eagle-owl is usually brown with dark gray markings. It has prominent ear-tufts, resembling Bubo bubo. There is a white throat patch with black stripes. The facial disc is poorly developed and unmarked and has a blackish border.

There are two plumage variations, the ground color is brown in some while it is pale and yellowish in others. The underwing shows a dark carpal patch. The irises are blood-orange. The beak and claws are gray. Their call is a deep resonant booming “bu-whúoh” sound.
Indian birds - Image of Rock eagle-owl - Bubo bengalensis
Birds of India - Picture of Rock eagle-owl - Bubo bengalensis
Birds of India - Photo of Rock eagle-owl - Bubo bengalensis
Indian birds - Image of Rock eagle-owl - Bubo bengalensis
Indian birds - Picture of Rock eagle-owl - Bubo bengalensis
Birds of India - Photo of Rock eagle-owl - Bubo bengalensis

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The rock eagle-owl species are distributed in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Myanmar. The populations in Myanmar may be extinct. Vagrant populations of the rock eagle-owl occur in Bangladesh. They do not occur in Sri Lanka.

In India these species are widely distributed, except for the north-eastern states of Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur.

Ecosystem and habitat

The rock eagle-owl species are moderately forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 2400 meters. They inhabit artificial ecosystems as well as natural cave, rock and forest ecosystems.

The owl species inhabit arable lands and plantations. Their habitats include tropical and subtropical dry forests, tropical and subtropical dry shrublands, natural rock formations, inland cliffs, mountain peaks, non-aquatic subterranean habitats and caves.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these species is mostly rodents. Rodents like Indian mole-rat, little Indian field mouse and Indian bush rat are preyed on. Other mammals like hare, rabbit, woolly flying squirrel and bat may be taken. Sometimes, even a peacock is attacked.

Birds like partridges, doves, Indian rollers, rock pigeons, shikaras and spotted owlets are also preyed on. The prey is teared up into smaller pieces before swallowing. Lizards, snakes, frogs, fish, crabs and large insects also form part of the diet of rock eagle-owl.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these owl species is from October to May in India, with a peak in February to April. They nest on bare soil among rock, on the ledge of a cliff or under a bush. The same nesting site may be reused each year.

The clutch may contain three or four creamy white ovalish round eggs. The eggs hatch after 33 days of incubation. The hatchlings are dependent on their parents for nearly six months.

Migration and movement patterns

The rock eagle-owl is a non-migrant resident bird.

Post breeding, the owl juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the rock eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis) has not been quantified. The overall population size of these species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be generally uncommon. The generation length is 11.6 years. Their distribution size is about 4,920,000

The rock eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Degradation and fragmentation of forests, loss of habitat, collection of eggs and trapping of adults and juveniles for pet trade are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the owl species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Evaluated’ for the rock eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis) and is listed in Appendix II.
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Bubo bengalensis
Species:B. bengalensis
Binomial name:Bubo bengalensis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
Popular posts in Birds of India

1.Image source:
Image author: Krzysztof Wiśniewski | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source:
Image author: Uploader | License: Public domain
3.Image source:
Image author: CharlesC | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Current topic in Birds of India: Rock eagle-owl - Bubo bengalensis.

Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.