Bio Facts: Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle
Milky Eagle Owl
Central to southern Africa
Dry and tropical areas, acacia trees, woodlands and savannas.
Gray brown in color and about 21-26 inches in length. Eyes are very dark, and eyelids are pink. The facial disk is whitish with a black band on each side.
In the wild, they eat rodents and other small mammals. In the Zoo, they eat bird of prey mix, whiting, smelt, mice and chicks.
Milky eagle owls make nests in hollow trees, on the ground of rocky caves, or take over hawk and eagle nests. The incubation period is 34-36 days. The clutch size is 1-3 eggs. Primarily the female incubates the eggs. Chicks fledge at 9-10 weeks old.
Prey is usually hunted using a quiet, quick dive.
During courtship the pair may engage in fast hooting, excited calling or whining as they bow to each other or preen each other’s feathers.
Talons are extremely sharp, as is their beak. Milky eagle owls have adaptive coloration to blend in with woodlands. Vision is acute. Flight is silent due to ruffled edges on feathers.
The Milky Eagle Owl is referred to as Verreaux’s Eagle Owl in eastern and South Africa. Jules Pierre Verreaux was from a well-respected French family of taxidermists and collectors. He also founded the British Ornithologists’ Union.
The Milky Eagle Owl is the only known predator of the South African hedgehog. Its spiny skin is neatly peeled off before it is eaten.
To see an owl during the day signifies bad luck. If one is seen in flight around the house at night, death is present. Brushing its wings against a window pain, or if seen perching for a great length of time on a roof signifies death within.
The British used to feed children owl broth to avoid whooping cough. Owl eggs were thought to prevent poor eyesight, epilepsy, and even make a drunk become sober again.
Like other predators, humans persecute owls wherever their presence may conflict with their interests. In Europe, eagle owls have been exterminated in densely populated areas. Owls did not suffer as much as other birds of prey when toxic chemicals were introduced as pesticides in agriculture. The greater threat is habitat destruction.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
This species first arrived here in October 1994.