Barred Eagle-owl takes a monkey

on 26th June 2009

Rane Wong a.k.a. reno was at Johor’s Panti forest one morning in June 2009 when he encountered a Barred Eagle-owl (Bubo sumatranus) perched on a slender branch of a tree with a monkey tightly clutched in its talons. The face of the monkey was ripped open, probably during the initial snatch before the owl took it to the perch.

Wells (1999) reports its food to include Town Pigeon and a red flying squirrel. Marks et al. (1999) give its diet as large insects and small mammals, especially rodents, snakes and small birds. There are no mention of monkeys been taken. Rane’s documentation may well be the first record.

An owl generally strikes its prey with its legs and feet extended downwards and close together. The toes are spread wide such that the eight talons form a rectangle. The moment the talons strike the prey, they immediately close, squeezing it tightly. This is often followed by a bite at the back of the head, killing it instantly. Small preys are swallowed whole while larger ones are torn into pieces and eaten. The head and feet may be discarded.

Note: As pointed out by Ashley Ng in a comment below, the owl was first spotted by Ms Chin Chwee Kim.

Marks, J. S., R. J. Cannings & H. Mikkola, 1999. Family Strigidae (Typical Owls). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to hummingbirds. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 76-242.
2. Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London. 648 pp.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

  1. What an amazing encounter and an excellent photo too! Well done Reno. A very good record indeed!

    For a nocturnal species to be encountered with prey in daylight, is fantastic. However, for the predator to be quite a rare species at Panti and the prey item to be unexpected is truly stunning.

    Based on the photo, the monkey looks like an immature Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis).

  2. Hi,

    Just a note of credit should go to Harry Ong’s wife, Ms Chin Chwee Kim
    for spotting & photographing the owl and showing others the location.


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