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Near Threatened (NT)
Recent Nearby Sightings
Shelley's Eagle-Owl Images
The Shelley's Eagle-Owl (Bubo shelleyi) is a species of owl in the Strigidae family. Despite its large size, it is a very little-known, rarely-studied owl that seems to occur in very small numbers.
This species is found in Central and Western Africa. It has been found in widely scattered locations in upper and lower Guinea, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gaboon and northeastern Zaire. It is a resident of lowland, tropical rainforests and has never been collected outside of densely forested areas.
This dark eagle-owl is among the largest owls in the world and by far the largest eagle-owl found in the African rainforests. The total length of the species is . The wing chord measured from and the tail measures . A single male was reported to have weighed , with females presumably attaining rather higher weights. It is dark brown above overlaid with light barring. The underparts are whitish with heavy dark barring. Lighter and darker morphs are known. The light morphs have an off-white to pale tawny facial disc, with a prominent rim marked with a blackish-brown border. In the light morph, the crown and mantle are dusky brown overlaid with buffy-whitish bars. The dark morph is much darker brown above with sparse orange-buff barring, a darker facial disc and a scaly looking brownish chest. The tail and the flight feathers of all are barred with brownish coloration of light and dark. The eyes are dark brown and the feet and almost the entirety of the toes are feathered. It is the only large, heavily built eagle owl in African with its barred patterns. Akun Eagle-Owl is much smaller and less barred with pale yellow eyes and bare, yellow toes. Fraser's Eagle-Owl is also considerably smaller, has less barring, a warmer tawny overall coloration, and bare, bluish-gray toes.
The Shelley's Eagle-Owl is a nocturnal bird who spends its days roosting in dense foliage, often at quite low levels in trees. Few living wild specimens have ever been studied. The powerful talons of the species suggest that it favored medium-sized mammals and large birds as prey. The only confirmed wild prey was a large flying squirrel. In captivity, Shelley's Eagle-Owls require about of food a day, mainly consisting of rodents feed to them. Details of the species' breeding habits are not generally known. A large nestling has been observed in September in Zaire, while another in mesoptile plumage was recorded in early November. Persistent singing by the species has been heard in March. Only 20 specimens of this species are known to have been collected. Further studies, especially of the life history of Shelley's Eagle-Owls, are needed. Based on this, it appears to be a very local and very rare bird. Due to its location in dense rainforest, it is clear that the species is threatened by any habitat loss within its native range.