Members of the genus Bubo are the largest of the owls. Heavily built with powerful talons they are recognisable by their size, their prominent ear-tufts, and their eyes that vary in colour from yellow to brown but are frequently vivid orange. The genus, including the Asian fish owls of the genus Ketupa – now believed to be part of Bubo – comprises of 20 species ranging Eurasia, Indonesia, Africa and the Americas. DNA evidence suggests that the Snowy Owls of Nyctea and the fish owls of Scotopelia are also candidates for inclusion in this genus.
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Bubo shelleyi is a large, rare forest owl known from scattered locations from Sierra Leone to northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)1. It is known from the following sites: Gola (Sierra Leone); Lofa-Mano, Mt Nimba, Zwedru, Balagizi Mts (Liberia); Tai, Mt Nimba (contiguous with Mt Nimba in Liberia) (Cote d’Ivoire); Ghana (two old records only4); ‘south’ Cameroon1; Ipassa Strict Nature Reserve (Gabon); Dimonika Biosphere Reserve (Congo); Okapi Faunal Reserve (DRC). B. shelleyi is the largest African forest owl, and may thus require large areas of good quality habitat and thus have a small population, possibly below 10,000 individuals