Verreaux's eagle-owl is a very large and powerful owl species. It ranges from 60?66 cm (24?26 in) in length. This species has an average wingspan of 140 cm (55 in). The body mass is 1,600?2,000 g (3.5?4.4 lb) in males, with an average of 1,700 g (3.7 lb) against a body mass of 2,500?3,150 g (5.51?6.94 lb), averaging 2,625 g (5.787 lb), in the larger females. Among standard measurements, each wing chord measures 42?49 cm (17?19 in), the tail is 22?27.5 cm (8.7?10.8 in) long and the tarsus is 8 cm (3.1 in). In appearance, they are distinguished by a whitish oval disk face with a black border and their pink eyelids. Their eyes are orange in color and they have two fluffy ear-tufts. Overall, they are a fairly uniform brownish-gray, with light vermiculations above and white spots on the shoulder. They are paler on the underside. They are nocturnal birds and roost in trees, with large, shaded horizontal branches of tall, old trees preferred. They sleep lightly and will awaken very quickly to defend themselves from attack in daylight hours. Breeding pairs and their offspring frequently roost together and may engage in allopreening during this time.


Habitat and Distribution

Verreaux's eagle-owl is found through most of Sub-Saharan Africa, though it is absent from most of the deep rainforests. They are also found in the Middle East. The species is found at the highest densities in eastern and southern Africa. They inhabit mainly semi-desert or dry savanna with scattered trees and thorny vegetation. They also range into riverine forest adjacent to savanna and small, semi-open woodland surrounded by open country, though they are less likely in more wooded habitats. They may inhabit all elevations, from sea-level to snow line.


Feeding

Verreaux's eagle-owl is considered an avian apex predator, meaning it is at or near the top of the food chain and healthy adults normally have no natural predators. They hunt predominantly in early evening though have been observed to swoop on prey during daylight. The owls usually fly to a different perch from their daytime roost to do their hunting. Verreaux's eagle-owls mainly hunt by gliding down on their prey from a perch. Full-grown owls feed on a variety of prey items, with medium-sized mammals and large birds being preferred. Commonly recorded mammalian prey has included young and adult monkeys, springhares, hares, genets, hyraxes, mongoose, ground squirrels, bats and various rats and mice. They are one of the very few birds to favor hedgehogs as prey.


Breeding

Breeding takes place from March to September. The monogamous pair defends their territory by their song and sometimes (though rarely) through duets. Usually breeding occurs every year but, when food densities are low, may occur only ever 2 or 3 years. They may use a variety of sites for nesting, including old weaver, hamerkop, secretarybird or other raptor nests the size of huge platiform nests constructed by Old World vultures. It may occasionally nest also in tree cavities or on very dense tangles of creepers or orchids. The female lays two white eggs, which typically measure 62.6 mm ? 51.4 mm (2.46 in ? 2.02 in) and weigh 93?101.6 g (3.28?3.58 oz) and are laid at up to 7 day intervals. She incubates the eggs for 33 to 39 days. She remains on the nest for the entire incubation period while the male hunts for food for both of them. Upon hatching, the new young weigh 60?70 g (2.1?2.5 oz) and almost right away have apparent pink eyelids. The first egg to hatch is the first to be fed, and if food is not plentiful only, the second chick often starves to death. If food is abundant, both owlets will be fed and may survive. The female broods the chicks consistently for 20 days. Intruding animals who get too close to the nest are attacked. The chicks are ready to leave the nest at around 63 days of age but only fly well around 2 weeks after this. The fledgings are hidden and rather inactive for around 3 months, only starting to catch their own prey at around 5 months. Some young may remain with their parents for up to 2 years. Sexual maturity is reached at 3 to 4 years of age. There is little data on longevity in wild adults, although captive ones have lived for up to 15 years.


Calls and Songs

Verreaux's eagle-owl is a very large and powerful owl species. It ranges from 60?66 cm (24?26 in) in length. This species has an average wingspan of 140 cm (55 in). The body mass is 1,600?2,000 g (3.5?4.4 lb) in males, with an average of 1,700 g (3.7 lb) against a body mass of 2,500?3,150 g (5.51?6.94 lb), averaging 2,625 g (5.787 lb), in the larger females. Among standard measurements, each wing chord measures 42?49 cm (17?19 in), the tail is 22?27.5 cm (8.7?10.8 in) long and the tarsus is 8 cm (3.1 in). In appearance, they are distinguished by a whitish oval disk face with a black border and their pink eyelids. Their eyes are orange in color and they have two fluffy ear-tufts. Overall, they are a fairly uniform brownish-gray, with light vermiculations above and white spots on the shoulder. They are paler on the underside.