|Conservation status||Least concern|
Verreaux's eagle-owl (Bubo lacteus) is a bird of prey of the family Strigidae, and found throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. It was named in recognition of French ornithologist and collector Jules Verreaux.
Verreaux's eagle-owl is the largest species of owl in Africa, with a length is 23.6 to 25.9 inches, and a wingspan of 4.6 to 5.5 feet. Females are slightly larger than males, with a body weight of 5.5 to 6.8 pounds versus 3.5 to 4.1 pounds for males. The plumage is a uniform gray-brown color above with white spots on the shoulders; the underside is a lighter grey, and finely striped in brown. Two thick dark stripes surround the facial disk, which is an off-white color. The eye color is yellow or orange with a brownish-black iris. A distinguishing feature about these birds is the pink eyelids, which are noticeable in good light, and possibly displayed in mating.
Range and habitat
Verreaux's eagle-owl live in sub-Saharan Africa, from northern Ethiopia and northern Somalia south to South Africa. A number of fragmented populations also are found in Senegal, Cameroon and Mali in western Africa.
They are found from sea level up to 9,000 feet in elevation, living in woodlands (but not rainforests), arid savannas, open grassy plains, riverside forests, swamps and flood plains. They have also taken advantage of human habitations and agricultural areas, provided there are enough trees for cover. One area historically avoided by these owls - deserts - has been occupied by them, but only in those areas which have been transformed by man as a result of farming practices.
They are opportunistic hunters, preying on many types of game, including hares, badgers, rodents, small monkeys, snakes, lizards, amphibians, fish, and insects. Birds - which they are nimble enough to snatch in mid-air - include flamingos, herons, other birds of prey, including other owls. Verreaux's eagle-owl is one of the few birds of prey that hunt hedgehogs, which are a favored food for adult birds.
Verreaux's eagle-owls usually nest in the abandoned nests of other birds such as vultures, eagles, or secretary birds; sometimes the resident birds are still in the nest to be driven out by the owls. They do not construct a nest for themselves. The nests are usually large, made of twigs and branches; sometimes it will be a nest located in a tangle of vines and orchids. Reproduction time varies in different areas but in general it is between March and September.  The female lays a total of two eggs, which it incubates for about 38 days; the males part during this time is to feed the female. Of the two eggs, one hatches first, followed by the other a few days later, which will die of neglect unless there is a heightened availability of food. The chicks leave the nest at about nine weeks old, but are still dependent on their parents for the next six months, and will stay with the parents for up to two years.