Verreaux’s eagle owl, also known as a milky eagle owl is the largest owl in Africa. It is named for Jules Verreaux, a well-known ornithologist and botanist in the 1800s.
Like all owls, milky eagle owls have numerous adaptations for hunting. The legs are powerfully strong, with long, sharp talons on each toe. This power, combined with the major force of impact that owls can achieve, means that most prey of any size are killed instantly upon impact. The edges of each feather bear soft, hair-like textures that eliminate the distinctive flapping sound that we hear when most birds take off into flight or change direction suddenly.
Did You Know?
Pairs often stay together for multiple years and produce two eggs annually. Usually, only one of the chicks survives to fledging, but then may stay with the pair for up to two years, assisting to raise subsequent chicks.
Their eyes are massive and offer exceedingly keen vision, even under very low light conditions. The distinctive behavior or head-bobbing from side-to-side maximizes their depth perception, which is crucial in order to make the perfect prey strike.
The so-called feathery ears atop the heads of many owls, including the milky eagle owl, are not ears at all. Those are physical adornments associated with communication and signals between individuals. The actual ears are not visible and are located along the outside edge of each eye underneath the feathers. The ears are of different size and orientations, which allows for very strong abilities to sense direction and distance of sounds. This amazing adaptation allows owls to pinpoint the location of prey they cannot see, such as rodents running under packed snow or grasses, as well as prey in zero-light conditions.