Cape eagle owl
|Cape Eagle Owl|
|Conservation status||Least concern|
The cape eagle owl (Bubo capensis), is a bird of prey of the family Strigidae, and found in southern Africa.
The cape eagle owl is relatively large, with a body length of 16 to 22.8 inches, and a weight of 1.9 to 3.9 pounds; females are larger than males. The plumage is dark brown above, fading to a lighter brown at the chest, then to a whitish belly; both belly and chest are heavily marked with dark brown feather tips and bars, while above it is spotted in a cream to fulvus to black. It has conspicuous ear tufts, and yellow-to-orange eyes set in a light-colored facial disk with a pronounced border ring. The legs and toes are tightly feathered.
- Bubo capensis capensis; southern Namibia and South Africa
- Bubo capensis dillonii; southern Eritrean highlands and Ethiopia
Some authorities consider Mackinder's eagle-owl (Bubo mackinderi) to be a subspecies of the cape eagle owl, despite its slightly-larger size.
Cape eagle owls are found in usually mountainous and hilly landscapes with rock faces and rocky gorges. However, it is also found in the rather flat Karroo in the Cape Province of South Africa, and has been seen hunting in open savannas. In some regions it has taken advantage of human habitations up to urban environments, where it has been hunting city doves at dusk. It is basically a nocturnal owl, but can occasionally be observed after sunrise or before sunset. They are territorial, with an owl defending an area of about a square mile in size.
Nesting consists of the placement of the eggs on a sheltered rock ledge, or on the ground in a concealed location (such as under a shrub); rarely is an abandoned nest of another bird reused. Two white eggs are laid, and incubated by the female for 34 to 38 days, the male supplying her with food. After hatching the females stay with the chicks until they reach 17 days before she is able to occasionally hunt on her own. The birds are fledged in 70 to 77 days, but remain with the nest for a further six months. They gain sexual maturity in about two years.