Order: Strigiformes

Family: Strigidae

Scientific name: Bubo nipalensis, Hodgson, 1836

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Spot bellied Eagle Owl is also knows as Forest Eagle Owl.
  2. Spot bellied Eagle Owl is easily distinguishable by its long prominent ear tufts.


The Spot bellied Eagle Owl is 50 to 65 cm in long and weighs 1500 to 1700 grams. The overall plumage is dark brown on the head, upper wings and upperparts. The throat and the under parts are pale brown. The upperparts are barred and mottled pale brown. The flanks have black and white horizontal stripes. The breast, belly and under tail have broad dark brown spots. The ear-tufts are long and slanting, having feathers of different sizes. The facial disc is pale buff. The legs and feet are feathered except for the terminal digits of the toes. The nostrils are round. The beak is curved and yellowish. The long curved talons are steel gray. The irises are dark brown. Both sexes look similar and juveniles appear much paler.


Spot bellied Eagle Owls are very powerful and is capable of killing birds up to peafowl in size and mammals of the size of a jackal. The diet includes birds, small and medium sized mammals, reptiles including monitor lizards, amphibians, fish etc. They also feed on the dead bodies of goats, tigers etc. The forage time is mainly night and it is done solitarily and very rarely in pairs.


Spot-bellied Eagle Owls are highly forest dependent birds. The habitat includes dense evergreen forests, lowland forests, foothill forests, deciduous forests etc. In India it is found in the dense ever green forests of Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Himalayas and north East India. It is also found in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season of Spot-bellied Eagle Owl is in February-March in Himalayan region and December- January in south India. These spot-bellied owl species normally nest in large tree cavities and rock fissures. They also use abandoned large stick-nests of eagles, vultures or kites. They are highly aggressive and defend their nests and cause serious injuries to intruders. Normally one white egg is laid. The incubation of 32-35 days is done by female assisted by male. When the young one comes, it is cared by both birds.


The call is a deep, booming “hoo-hoo-hoo” sound and some loud screaming sounds.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Indian Eagle Owl (Bubo bengalensis).
  • Barred Eagle Owl (Bubo sumatranus).
  • Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo africanus).
  • Bubo nipalensis nipalensis of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
  • Bubo nipalensis blighi of Sri Lanka.

Migratory Behaviour

Non Migratory, but uncommon Resident