Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl - Bubo nipalensis

General Information

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Common Name : Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl
Scientific Name : Bubo nipalensis (Hodgson, 1836)

Order : Strigiformes
Family : Strigidae
Taxonomic Group : Strigiformes - Strigidae ( Typical owls )
Vernacular Name : Cachar (Assam): Dao bu gao deba, Bhiutia (Sikkim): Migdori, Nepal: Huhu, Huhu cheel, Tamil: Kottaan, Periya andai, Malayalam (Kerala): Umman, Kattu munga, Sinhala (Sri Lanka): Loku bakamuna

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Common Name : Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl
Scientific Name : Bubo nipalensis
Order : Strigiformes Family : Strigidae (Owls)
Number of SubSpecies : 2

Taxon Category Sub Species / Race Range
subspeciesBubo nipalensis nipalensisHimalayas to India, sw China (Yunnan), Myanmar and Vietnam
subspeciesBubo nipalensis blighiSri Lanka

3rd Edition, 2003. Revised and Corrected per Corrigenda to December 31, 2006

Common Name : Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl
Scientific Name : Bubo nipalensis
SubFamily : Striginae

Number of SubSpecies : 2

Sub Species / Race
Bubo nipalensis nipalensis
Bubo nipalensis blighi

IOC Common Name : Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl
IOC Scientific Name : Bubo nipalensis

Distribution :
Region : OR Range : s India & Sri Lanka, Himalayas to Southeast Asia
Order : STRIGIFORMES Family : Strigidae
Category : Owls

SYNOPIS NO : 628- 629

Scientific Name: Bubo nipalensis
Common Name: Forest Eagle-Owl

Common Name : Spot-bellied Eagle-owl
Scientific Name : Bubo nipalensis (Hodgson, 1836)
Birdlife Synonym :

BirdLife Redlist Status Year 2010: LC
BirdLife Species FactSheet for Spot-bellied Eagle-owl ( Bubo nipalensis )

Taxonomy Treatment : R

IUCN Common Name (Eng) : Spot-bellied Eagle-owl, Forest Eagle-owl
Scientific Name : Bubo nipalensis (Hodgson, 1836)
IUCN Redlist Species FactSheet for Spot-bellied Eagle-owl, Forest Eagle-owl ( Bubo nipalensis )

Species : nipalensis
Genus : Bubo
Family : Strigidae Order : Strigiformes

IUCN RedList Status : LC

IUCN RedList Criteria Version : 3.1
IUCN RedList Year Assessed : 2008
IUCN RedList Petitioned : N


Scientific Name : Bubo nipalensis
Common Name : Spot-bellied Eagle Owl


Bibliography of Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl ( Bubo nipalensis )
Number of Results found : 17

1. Claus Konig; Friedhelm Weick; Jan-Hendrik Becking , (2009), Forest Eagle Owl (Bubo nipalensis), Owls of the World; Yale University Press, : 337 / 36.

2. Ajit J. Deshmukh , (2008), Photographic record of Forest Eagle-Owl Bubo nipalensis from Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India , INDIAN BIRDS, 4:1: .

3. Nandini R. , (2005), Predation by Forest Eagle-Owl Bubo nipalensis on Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna., INDIAN BIRDS, 1:5: .

4. Craig Robson , (2005), Spot-bellied or Forest Eagle-Owl (Bubo nipalensis), BIRDS OF SOUTH-EAST ASIA; New Holland Publishers Ltd, : 31.

5. Krys Kazmierczak; Ber van Perlo , (2000), Spot-bellied or Forest Eagle-Owl (Bubo nipalensis), A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT; Yale University Press, : 156.

6. Simpson B; , (2000), Thattakad Bird Sanctuary, India, Oriental Bird Club Bulletin, 32:: 53.

7. Carol Inskipp; Tim Inskipp; Richard Grimmett , (1999), Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl (Bubo nipalensis), HELM FIELD GUIDES - BIRDS of BHUTAN; A&C Black, : 74.

8. U.S.; , (1998), Near Badalkumbura IZ 500m - 11-12.11, Ceylon Bird Club Notes, 1998:November: 94 - 95.

9. Robson C; , (1998), Nepal, Oriental Bird Club Bulletin, 27:: 61 - 66.

10. Giri T;Choudhary H; , (1997), Additional sightings!, Danphe, 6:2: 7 - 8.

11. Wemmer C;Derrickson KC; , (1994), Duetting in the Great Horned Owl, Bubo nipalensis Hodgson (Strigiformes: Strigidae), Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 91:1: 141 - 142.

12. Kannan R; , (1994), Forest Eagle Owl (Bubo nipalensis Hodgson) - a predator of the Indian Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica), Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 91:3: 454.

13. Salim Ali; S Dillon Ripley  , (1981), No. 629. Ceylon Forest Eagle-Owl (Bubo nipalensis blighi ) Legge, Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, Volume 3 (Stone Curlews to Owls ): 277.

14. Salim Ali; S Dillon Ripley  , (1981), No. 628. Forest Eagle-Owl (Bubo nipalensis nipalensis ) Hodgson, Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, Volume 3 (Stone Curlews to Owls ): 276.

15. Spittel RL; , (1968), The devil birds of Ceylon, Loris, 11:4: 1 - 14.

16. Neelakantan KK; , (1965), Young Forest Eagle-Owl in captivity, Peacock, 2:4: 18 - 19.

17. Jerdon TC; , (1839), Catalogue of the birds of the peninsula of India, arranged according to the modern system of classification; with brief notes on their habits and geographical distribution, and description of new, doubtful and imperfectly described specimens, Madras Journal of Literature and Science, 10-12:: 10 - 269.

Book Excerpts

71. Huhua Nipalensis, Hodgson.

J. A. S. IV, 362 ; As. Res. XIX. 172 - H. pectoralis, Jerdon, Cat. 44, with figure ? Bubo orientalis, apud Blyth, Cat. 140 -  Horsf., Cat. 86. - Huhu and Huhu Chil, in Nepal; Uman, Mai.

The Forest Eagle-Owl.

Descr. - Above dark brown, the feathers barred and edged with pale tawny, the yellow predominating on the back, and back of neck ; ear-tufts dark brown on the outer web, with pale bars, fulvous on the inner web, with dark bars ; disk brownish-white, edged brown over the base of bill and eye; quills brown, barred, and clouded with whitish-tawny ; tail the same ; outer edge of scapularies pale yellow, with brown bars ; beneath, the chin white, and the rest ofthe lower parts, with the flanks, pale fulvous-white, the feathers barred with broadish cordate spots of brown, in some tending to coalesce, and form a pectoral band; tarsal feathers spotted brown.

Bill horny-yellow, irides brown ; claws dirty yellow. The wings reach to about 14; inches from the end of the tail.

Length 22 to 23 inches ; wing, 16 1/2; tail, 8 1/4; tarsus, 2 ; mid-toe and claw, 3 ; inner do, 3 3/4 ; bill at gape, 2 1/4 ; height, 1 1/4.

Hodgson assigns greater dimensipns to this bird, viz. 28 to 30 inches, extent 5 1/2 feet; but a specimen from Nepal corresponds very closely in measurement with my Malabar one. Hodgson further gives the tarsus 3 inches, and the inner talon along the curve, 2 1/4.

It is doubtful if the Nepal bird be the same as the Malayan one, figured by Temminck; and also whether the one I obtained from Southern India be the same as either: but materials are wanting to form a just conclusion. Blyth and Horsfield join both to the Strix orientalis, Horsfield, strepitans, Temm. Pl. Col. 174 ; but Bonaparte, whilst joining Hodgson's bird to Horsfield's, keeps mine as doubtfully distinct. Kaup separates the Nepal bird from the Malayan one, and in this I have followed him, without however having had opportunities of full comparison. For the same reason I have also united the race from Southern India though with doubt ; and considering the great similarity of allied species in this family, which are recognized as distinct, I think we may conclude that there are two, if not three, allied races or species of this form in India (including Burmah) and Malayana.

Hodgson got his Owl in Nepal from the central region chiefly; and it is probably found through a considerable part of the Himalayas, at no great elevation however. I obtained my pectoralis in high forest in Malabar, where it is not very common, and is said to kill hares, various birds, cats, rats, and also fish. In this my informant may have been in error, perhaps confounding it with Ketupa, which is a well-known fisher.   It has a low deep and   far-sounding moaning hoot. I had a specimen alive at Tellieherry, but it was unfortunately killed by a toddy cat (Paradoxurus).

Hodgson asserts that the Nepal Owl preys on pheasants, hares, rats, snakes, and sometimes on the fawns of the Ratwa and Ghoral, and that it is subdiurnal in the depths of the forests. If so, it is an exception to the general rule of Owls with dark irides being strictly nocturnal.

85. Bubo nipalensis, Hodgs.

As. Res. xi.x, p. 172 ; Sharpe, Cat. Striges, p. 37, Huhua nipalensis, Hodgs. J.A. S. B. vi. p. 262; Jerd. B. Ind. i. p. 131, No, 71 ; Blyth, Ibis. 1866, p, 254 ; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 378; id. Str. F. i.p. 431, Bubo orientalis, Blyth, Cat. B. Mus. As. S. B. p. 34. Huhua pectoralis. Holds. P. Z. S. 1872, p, 416,-

The Forest Eagle Owl.

Adult.- Above brown narrowly tipped and banded across with tawny buff over the whole of the upper surface, these bars less distinct on the crown, but broader and deeper colored on the hind neck. Outermost scapulars tipped and spotted with yellowish buff on the outer web, forming a distinct shoulder patch. Primary coverts nearly uniform dark brown, with faint indications of lighter brown bars. Quills dark brown, barred darker; tail dark brown, broadly tipped with whitish and crossed with six other bands of fulvous ; face dusky brown with whitish shaft streaks; feathers above the eye blackish. Ear tufts 3.1 inches long, dark brown, notched and barred with fulvous or white on the inner web. Cheeks with white stiff feathers mesially streaked with brown ; chin whitish-rest of under surface of body white, washed here and there with fulvous and barred across with dark brown ; under tail coverts the same, also the under wing coverts.

Length.-23 to 25 inches; wing 16.5 to 18.1 ; tail 11 ; tarsus 3.2 ; bill at gape 2.5, bill horny yellow ; irides brown,

Hab.-Southern India and the Himalayas, ranging Eastward into Tennaserim; also Ceylon and Malabar.

I have nothing to record in regard to its nidification. It preys on rats, snakes, hares and pheasants. Mr. Gurney in P. Z. S. 1884, p. 558, plate 52, gives an excellent figure of this large owl, from a living specimen in the Zoological Society's Garden, captured as a nestling on a precipitous ledge of a lofty moun­tain in the Karenne Country to the N. E. of Pegu. It has lived in the Gardens since 1878, at which dme a note was made of the circumstances of its capture. ( P, Z. S. 1878, p. 790), under the name of Bubo (Huhua) Orientalis. Mr. Gurney, now has no doubt that it is really an example (now fully adult) of H. Nipalensis. Mr. Gurney says " the present is probably the most eastern example of Huhua Nipalensis, of which the locality has as yet been ascertained, as there appears to be considerable doubt whether a young owl obtained by Col. Tickell on the Mooleyit Mountain in Tennaserim, belonged to this species. Of to its congener, H. Orientalis. Mr. Blyth held the former opinion (Ibis. 1872, p. 89,) and Mr. Hume advocated the latter in Stray F. vol, vi, p. 31. Capt. R, 0, Wardlaw Ramsay possesses a specimen of H. Nipalensis in immature dress, which was shot at Tonghoo, a locality nearly as far eastward as that from which the bird now in Regent's Park was obtained. Col. Godwin-Austen has recorded a much more northern specimen of this species obtained in the Darrang Dist, of Assam, J. A. S. B., vol. xiv,, pt, 2, p. 68 ; while Mr. W. T. Blanford records its occurrence (J. A. S. B.vol.-xli.,pt. 2, p, 154) in the Tista Valley in Sikkim, and Hodgson in Asiatic Researches, vol. xix,, p. 173, says it is found in all parts of the kingdom of Nepaul, Major Fitzgerald obtained the young of this species in the Darjeeling District, and says (Ibis. 1878, pig), that though not a common bird, it is met with in most parts of the Himalayas in the more temperate valleys. The presumption in favour of the I\Ialabar bird being identical with H. Nipalensis is strengthened by the fact of this species being an inhabitant of Ceylon,"

1170. Huhua nepalensis.


The Forest Eagle-Owl.

Bubo nipalensis, Hodgson, As. lies, xix, p. 172 (1836); Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 37 ; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 30; Hume, Cat. no. 71; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 231; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 131; Davison, S. F. x, p. 343; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 152; Hume, S. F. xi. p. 20. Huhua nipalensis, Hodgson, J. A. S. B. vi, p. 362; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 131; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 254; 1872, p. 89; Beavan, P. Z. S. 1868, p. 400; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 378; Jerdon, Ibis, 1871, p. 346; Hume, S. F. i. p. 431; Blanford, J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 154; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 65; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S.B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 68; xlvii, pt. 2, p. 12; Gurney & Fitzgerald, Ibis, 1878, p. 119; Gurney, P. Z. S. 1884, p. 558, pl. Iii. Huhua pectoralis, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 89, pl. i; Holds-worth, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 416. Bubo orientalis, Blyth, Cat. p. 34; Sclater, P. Z. S. 1878, p. 790; nec Strix orientalis, Horsf. Ptiloskelos amherstii, Tickell, J. A. S. B. xxviii, p. 448 (1859).

Huhu, Huhu Chil, Nepal; Migdori, Bhot.; Uman, Malayalim; Loho, Bakamuna, Cing.; Peria-anda, Tam. (Ceylon).

Coloration. Lores, cheeks, and ear-coverts greyish or brownish white, shafts and tips of lores and ear-coverts blackish brown; long-pointed aigrettes blackish brown, the inner webs or sometimes the whole barred with white or buff; upper plumage throughout dark brown, the feathers barred, edged, and mottled with buff, least, and frequently not at all, on the crown, back, and smaller wing-coverts, most on the neck, scapulars, and larger wing-coverts ; sides of neck, outer scapulars, and upper tail-coverts buff, barred with brown, the scapulars forming a distinct buff band on each side; quills and tail-feathers dark brown, with pale bars and tips, more distinct on the secondaries than on the primaries, the pale bars on the inner webs near the base, except on the middle pair of tail-feathers, very broad and nearly or quite white; lower plumage white, often tinged fulvous, the feathers broadly barred with dark brown, the subterminal bar on each feather forming a crescentic or heart-shaped spot.
Young birds are white or buff, with crescentic dark brown bars on all feathers of both the upper and lower surface ; the quills and tail-feathers as in adults. Even after a change of plumage (by a moult) the aigrettes are barred throughout at first and the dosral feathers have more buffy bars and markings than those of older birds.

Bill yellow; irides brown; toes yellow; claws dusky at the end, pale at base.

Length about 24 inches (21-5-27); tail 9; wing 17 (15.3-19) ; tarsus 2.75; bill from gape 2. Females are generally larger than males and Himalayan birds than those from Southern India and Ceylon.

Distribution. This Owl is found in the forests of the Himalayas as far west as Kumaun, and probably farther, at elevations not exceeding 7000 feet, also in the hill-forests of the Nilgiris and Malabar and in the higher parts of Ceylon. To the eastward it has been obtained in the Assam hills, and in Burma near Toungngoo, in Karennee, and from Bilugyun Island opposite Moulmein. There can now be no question that Jerdon's Huhua pectoralis, from Malabar, is the same bird, as Davison found the present species on the Nilgiris. The description by Tickell of Ptiloskelos amherslii appears to me to agree better with the young of this bird than with that of B. orientalis, and Blyth (Ibis, 1872, p. 89), who saw Tickell's original specimen, identified it with B. nepalensis without hesitation.

Habits, &c. A forest bird, shy and seldom seen. Very little is known of its food, though from its size and powerful claws it probably lives on birds or mammals, and it is said to kill pheasants, hares, young deer, &c. It is somewhat diurnal in its habits, and I heard one calling and saw it shot about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The call is, as described by Jerdon, " a low deep and far-sounding, moaning hoot." The nidification is unknown.

(1663) Huhua nipalensis.


The Forest EAGLE-OWL.

Huhua nipalensis Hodgs., As. Res., xix, p. 172 (1836) (Nepal). Huhua nepalensis. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 287.

Vernacular names. Huhu, Huhu chil (Nepal); Migdori (Bhut.); Uman (Malayalim); Loho, Bakamuna (Cing.) : Peria-andha (Tam., Ceylon); Dao-bu-gao~dela (Cachari).

Description. Bristly feathers of lores and cheeks whity-brown with black shafts; aigrettes dark brown, the inner webs and, rarely, the outer webs more or less barred with fulvous-white; upper plumage dark brown, the feathers edged with pale buff and barred at the bases with fulvous, concealed on the crown and nape, showing more on the back and taking up most of the feathers on the rump and upper tail-coverts ; tail dark brown with fulvous bars, mottled and dull on the central feathers, broader, brighter and less mottled on the bases of the outer rectrices; scapulars broadly buff with dark brown bars; wing-coverts dark brown, the lesser with narrow buffy-white edges, the median and greater with broad buff edges mottled with brown ; primaries dark brown barred with lighter brown; the secondaries more broadly barred with buffy-brown, the innermost like the scapulars ; below fulvous or fulvous-white, the throat and breast barred with dark brown, the bars become broad spots on the abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts.

Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or hazel-brown; bill dull wax-yellow to yellow ; toes dusky yellow; claws pale horny, darker at the tips.

Measurements. Wing 425 to 470 mm.; tail 229 to 250 mm.; tarsus about 60 to 62 mm.; culmen 52 to 54 mm.

Young birds are pale buff, whiter on the head, the whole plumage above and below barred with dark brown, which becomes broader and further apart on the scapulars, wing-coverts and lower back; the tail and quills of the wing are like those of the adult.

Distribution. Himalayas, West from Kuman, East to Assam, the hills of Central Burma and Bilagun Island near Moulmein. South it is found in the forests of the Nilgiris and Malabar through Travancore to the hills of Ceylon.

Nidification. This magnificent Owl breeds in the Himalayas from February to March and I took one egg hard-set in Cachar on the 20th June, evidently a second laying after one young had been hatched and brought up in the same hollow. In Travancore Stewart found it breeding in December and January. It lays its egg, nearly always one only, either in some natural hole in a big tree, in a hollow between the main boughs, an old Eagle's nest or on the ground or in some cave in a cliff or bank. I have never seen any nest made and even old nests of Eagles are used as they are found, without repairs. Ten eggs average 61.2 x 49.9 mm.: maxima 65.0 X 52.4 mm.; minima 57.0 x 48.5 mm.

Habits. The Forest Eagle-Owl is a forest dweller by day but it keeps either on the outskirts of these or on the banks of the bigger streams. As soon as it is twilight it sallies off after its prey and when hungry does not hesitate to hunt by daylight. For this purpose it quits the heavy forest and takes to open country, light scrub and bamboo-jungle, or thin deciduous forest. This Owl is certainly the boldest of all Owls, it preys constantly on the largest pheasants, jungle-fowl and does not hesitate to attack peafowl. I once saw one hurl itself headlong at a row of roosting peafowl, one of which it seized and brought tumbling to the ground, the peafowl in the death grip of the Owl; another time 1 saw one feasting on a big civet cat which showed by the marks that it had been killed by the bird. The power of its grip is extraordinary and it will drive its claws half an inch deep into the leg or arm of a man. The usual note is a very deep mumble and when, as was often the case, a pair perched on my house-roof at night, the noise sounded just like two old men conversing in very deep tones. It also has a loud caterwaul - a single note very seldom used but very piercing. It eats fish, snakes and monitor lizards as well as game etc. and will also devour carrion, for I once disturbed it eating the remains of a tiger and once that of a goat.

Huhua nipalensis Hodgs,


Bubo nipalensis Hodgs., Asiat. Res., vol. xix, p. 172, after Sept. 1836: Nepal.

Huhua nipalensis Hodgs., J. A. S. B., vol. vi, p. 362, May no., 1837: Nepal.

Huhua pectoralis Jerdon, Madr. Jour. Lit. Sci., vol. x, p. 89, pi. i, 1840.

Ptiloskelos amhersti Tickell, J. A. S. B., vol. v, p. 448, 1859: Tenasserim.

Museum Collections

Number of Museum Specimen Records Found : 5 for Bubo nipalensis

No. Museum Species Collection Deatils Collector Date of Collection Record Locality GBIF Portal Link
1Field MuseumBubo nipalensis nipalensisFMNH Birds 84418SpecimenMangpu West Bengal India Southern Asia Link
2Yale University Peabody MuseumBubo nipalensis nipalensisYPM ORN ORN.042619A. M. Primrose1910-01-17 00:00:00.0Specimen Darjeeling District West Bengal State India Southern Asia Link
3Field MuseumBubo nipalensis nipalensisFMNH Birds 2300871948-09-12 00:00:00.0SpecimenKandia Tehri-Garwhal Uttar Pradesh India Southern Asia Link
4Field MuseumBubo nipalensis nipalensisFMNH Birds 1897331949-01-21 00:00:00.0SpecimenKhoura Balaghat Madhya Pradesh India Southern Asia Link
5Field MuseumBubo nipalensis nipalensisFMNH Birds 2300861949-06-03 00:00:00.0SpecimenBurnihat Khasi Hills Meghalaya India Southern Asia Link

Biodiversity occurrence data provided by: (Accessed through GBIF Data Portal, 2009-08-06)

Data Providers
  • Field Museum ( 4 Records )

  • Yale University Peabody Museum ( 1 Records )


3 calls found for Bubo nipalensis

Call Type: song (A)

Remarks: Immature calling from tree at Radar Rd well before dusk.
Call Type: call (no score)

Remarks: Immature calling from tree at Radar Rd well before dusk.
Call Type: call (no score)

The Bird Calls are embedded through See Terms of Use


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Cite this website along with its URL as:
Anonymous. 2014 Bubo nipalensis - Hodgson, 1836 (Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl ) in Deomurari, A.N. (Compiler), 2010. AVIS-IBIS (Avian Information System - Indian BioDiversity Information System) v. 1.0. Foundation For Ecological Security, India retrieved on 12/17/2014
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