Male and female are almost similar, but the female is larger and bulkier than male. The plumage is paler, especially on the upper breast. The facial disc is distinctly edged dark. The eyelids are edged buff. Bill and legs are paler yellow.  

The chick has white down overall.
The juvenile is buffy-white with dark brown barring. The ear-tufts are short and rounded. They are white with fine brown bars. The facial disk is white. The yellow bill is very pale.

The Barred Eagle-Owl has three subspecies.
B.s. sumatranus (described above) is found in extreme S Myanmar and peninsular Thailand, S to Sumatra, including Bangka Island.
B.s. strepitans is found in Java and Bali.
This race is much larger than nominate. On the underparts, the barring is stronger and the bars are broader. The upper breast is paler than nominate, with narrower bars.
B.s. tenuifasciatus is found in Borneo.
This one has much narrower bars on the underparts.

The Barred Eagle-Owl frequents the humid forest intersected by streams, pools and ponds. It can be found in gardens with large trees, in secondary growths and plantations, at forest edges and in clearings. It usually occurs from lowlands to 600/1,000 metres of elevation. However, it can be seen higher depending on the range, from 1,400 to 1,860 metres, but rarely higher.

The Barred Eagle-Owl gives deep hoots “hoo” or “hoo-hoo” dropping in pitch towards the end and ending with a deep groan. The two notes of the double-hoot are given at two seconds intervals.
It also produces various noises such as fearful shrieks, a noisy cackling including several syllables, and strangulated sounds.
We can also hear a longer series of several rapid hoots “hoo-hoohoohoohoohoohoo…” dropping in pitch towards the end. 

The Barred Eagle-Owl feeds on large insects such as grasshoppers and Coleopterans. It also takes birds, small mammals (mainly rodents) and snakes.
This species usually becomes active at dusk. It hunts by gliding low and silently over the ground and goes to a perch, before dropping to the ground to search for prey. It hops well on the ground.

It roosts and sleeps alone or in pair during the day. It is often hidden among the dense foliage of a tree, perched near the trunk.

The Barred Eagle-Owl probably pairs for life. They often return to the same nesting site year after year.
The male becomes noisy at the beginning of the breeding season, in order to attract a female or renew the pair-bond with the same mate. The displays of this species are not described, but they probably involve both mates flying together and courtship feeding by male to female.  

The Barred Eagle-Owl is resident.
The flight is silent when the bird is hunting. These owls are able to fly fast.

The breeding season varies according to the range. Eggs are found in February/April in Java and young at nest in May/June. In Sumatra, chicks and fledged young are seen in March/May, whereas in Borneo, young are observed in February/March.
The Barred Eagle-Owl nests in a large cavity in tree. However, it may also nest in Bird’s-nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) and in some other unusual sites. The same nest-site is often reused year after year by the same pair.
The female lays one white egg. The incubation period is unknown. In Malaysia, a chick hatched in early December and fledged in late January, at two months old.

The observation of a nest placed in a planter box containing a bougainvillea on the highest floor of a building gives us some interesting information.
It describes the female feeding the chick during the first days while the male hunts and brings food to the nest. Later, about three weeks after the hatching, the male comes to the nest and feeds the chick. From this day, both parents share the feeding of the young bird.
The male arriving at nest with a prey produces barking calls, while the female responds by chattering calls. The prey is torn up and slowly given piece by piece to the chick.
The nest-site remains very clean and dead carcasses are regularly removed from the nest.

The Barred Eagle-Owl is generally uncommon throughout the range.
This species is able to adapt to disturbed habitat and frequents second growths, but it is threatened by habitat loss in the future.
However, the population is suspected to be stable and the species is not globally threatened for the moment.
The Barred Eagle-Owl is currently evaluated as Least Concern. 

Fr: Grand-duc bruyant
Ang: Barred Eagle-Owl
All: Malaienuhu
Esp: Búho Malayo
Ita: Gufo reale barrato
Nd: Maleise Oehoe
Sd: malackauv


William Price
PBase-tereksandpiper & Flickr William Price

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 5 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334253

OWLS OF THE   WORLD – By Claus König, Friedhelm Weick and Jan-Hendrik Becking - IBSN 978-0-7136-6548-2

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive

The Owl Pages (Deane P.Lewis) 


Singapore Birds Project

First breeding record of the Barred Eagle-Owl in Singapore Island

Barred Eagle-owl (Bubo Sumatranus): Species Accounts

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia 


Home page

Page Order Strigiformes

Summary cards


Barred Eagle-Owl
Bubo sumatranus

Strigiformes Order – Strigidae Family

The Barred Eagle-Owl is found from Thai-Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, Java and Borneo where it frequents the humid forest intersected by streams and pools, from lowlands up to 1,600 metres of elevation. Three subspecies share the range.
It feeds on large insects, birds, small mammals and reptiles. It nests in large tree hole, but also in ferns and other unusual sites.
The Barred Eagle-Owl is described as uncommon throughout the range. It is able to adapt to disturbed habitats, but it is threatened by habitat loss in the future.
But the species is not globally threatened for the moment.  

Length: 40-46 cm
Weight: 620 g

The Barred Eagle-Owl has dark brown to blackish-brown upperparts, vermiculated and mottled with rufous-buff bars, broader on the back. Some buffy-white markings are visible on scapulars. Tail and flight-feathers are barred. The uppertail usually shows about six whitish or tawny bars.

The underparts are greyish-white and finely barred with brown. The upper breast is tinged rufous-brown. Rest of underparts shows scattered, slightly arrow-shaped dark brown spots on the pale background.

On the head, facial disc and lores are dirty, greyish-white, with no distinct rim around the facial disc. The eyebrows are whitish but fairly indistinct too. The very long ear-tufts are dark brown with fine barring. They are usually directed outwards.  
Bill and cere are pale yellow. The eyes are dark brown to hazel. The rims of the eyelids are yellow to pale grey. The tarsi are feathered. The toes are yellowish-grey with dark horn claws.