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A photo of a Verreaux's Eagle-Owl (Bubo lacteus)
Verreaux's Eagle-Owl

Verreaux's Eagle-Owl

Bubo lacteus

Verreaux's eagle-owl (Bubo lacteus), also commonly known as the milky eagle owl or giant eagle owl, is a member of the family Strigidae. This species is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. A member of the genus Bubo, it is the largest African owl, measuring up to 66 cm in total length. This eagle-owl is a resident primarily of dry, wooded savanna. Verreaux's eagle-owl is mainly grey in color and is distinguishable from other large owls by its bright pink eyelids, a feature shared with no other owl species in the world. Overall, Verreaux's eagle-owl is a fairly uniform and somewhat pale gray, with light and fine brownish vermiculations on the underside. The back is more solidly light brown with white spots on the shoulder. The oval facial disc is paler, sometimes ranging into a whitish color, than the rest of the front side of the bird with strong black borders bracketing either side. One other feature that immediately distinguishes adult Verreaux's eagle-owls in good light are its pink eyelids. Their eyes are dark-brown in color and like all eagle-owls, they have ear-tufts. The ear-tufts are blunter and smaller relative to those of other African eagle-owls. The ear-tufts of this species are relatively subtle and can be missed in the field, especially if they are held lax. In appearance, they are quite easily distinguished if seen well. They are much bigger and bulkier than most other co-occurring owls. The only eagle-owl species in range that approaches its size is the Shelley's eagle-owl (Bubo shelleyi), which may (but is not confirmed to) co-exist with the Verreaux's in northern Cameroon and the southern sliver of the Central African Republic most likely in forest edge and mosaics, but that species is a much darker sooty colour overall with broad black bands on the underside.
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