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Three Star Grading

Tourism Grading Council
South Africa





 

 

 

 

 

 



Birds of South Africa

Click on Links below to see info of South African and St. Lucia Bird Species
African Crowned Eagle| African Fish Eagle| Black Shouldered Kite| Blue Crane| Great White Pelican| Malachite Kingfisher| Purple Crested Lourie| Secretary Bird| Spotted Eagle Owl| Verreaux's (Black) Eagle|

Common Name: Spotted Eagle Owl

Scientific Name: Bubo africanus (Afrikaans: Gevlekte Ooruil)

Description:

The eyes are very big, varying in colour from yellow to golden orange. The bill and legs are black. The eagle owl rests or sleeps during the day, hidden in rock ledges or in thick foliage of big trees. They can be seen at sunset or early morning perched on telephone poles or fencing posts, on the roofs of houses, and a favourite place in built up areas is on top of the cover of halogen lights in public parks, where they are well hidden in the shadow of the light cover, but can get a very good view of the ground which is well lit. There they can watch for big insects, rhino beetles and rodents and lizards, and occasionally birds. The eyes of this owl are very well developed with good night vision, with eyeballs bigger than those of humans. They still cannot see in total darkness, so to be able to hunt on dark nights they have remarkably well developed hearing ability. The ears are placed within the big facial disc round the face which helps to amplify the sound of moving rodents and insects. The owl is able to pin-point the sounds of these creatures, enabling him to pounce even in total darkness and hit its prey most of the time.

Bird

Pictures: Courtesy of South African Tourism!

Size:

This is one of the medium-sized species of owl, one of the smallest of the Eagle owls. Its height is 45 cm and its weight is from 480 to 850g. It has

Area:

The Spotted Eagle Owl is the commonest of our owls found all over the country, but prefers rocky or well wooded areas. A distinguishing feature is the long ear tufts, but these are purely for show, as they have nothing to do with the actual ears. It is very similar in appearance to the Cape Eagle Owl, which is less common and slightly bigger. Spotted at the trey inhabit most of Africa south of the Sahara desert away from dense forests. They are diurnal hunters, spending the night concealed in trees, rock ledges or abandoned burrows. They are found in areas with rocky outcroppings, scrub land, open woods, and semi deserts. Spotted Eagle-owls do not avoid populated areas. They often hunt near roads and are often struck by vehicles. The major cause of death is pesticides used in agriculture for insect and rodent control.

Habits:

Spotted Eagle Owls do not have a tendency to avoid populated areas, and many of their deaths are as a consequence of this habit. Quite a lot of their hunting is done by the sides of roads & many are killed by collisions with vehicles. Another cause of deaths is flying into, or becoming trapped by, fences & overhead cables. But by far the largest cause of deaths of Spotted Eagle Owls in Africa is pesticides, many of which are banned in Europe and America, such as DDT. Their natural predators include amongst other things, the Osprey.

Nesting:

Nesting is mainly in the summer months. The nests could be on the old nests of other birds of prey, on platforms of old tree houses, on a thick branch of a big oak tree, in natural holes in trees, in old wells, on rock ledges on cliffs, in lofts of buildings, in window flower boxes, and occasionally on the ground under a big tree, specially under a big pine tree where there is a mat of pine needles on the ground. They lay 2 3 white eggs. One thing that the owl will have to face when the day of reckoning for owls comes is the fact that they are responsible for many Hamerkop nests being lost to the owners. The Hamerkop makes a huge nest, up to 2,5 metres tall, completely enclosed, with an opening on the underside. It takes the Hamerkop six months or more to build this huge nest, but when it is completed and the birds come out to shake the dust out of their feathers, they on their return often find a family of eagle owls have moved into the nest! This is possibly the main reason why the Hamerkop has become quite rare where once they were common. Sometimes the owls nest on the roof of the Hamerkop nest, in which case they can live quite happily together. Once in Somerset West we had a hide up on an old tree house floor at an owls nest. Lower down in the same tree a pair of Laughing Doves had a nest with two eggs. We were sure that the chicks would be taken as soon as they were about ten days old, as dove chicks are regularly brought to feed baby owls. Unbelievably the dove chicks grew up and eventually fledged.

Food:

The Spotted Eagle Owls hunt predominantly at dusk, spending most of the day concealed in trees, on rock ledges or even in burrows of other animals. They will take a large variety of prey, from small mammals, birds in flight, reptiles, scorpions, crabs, frogs, bats & insects. They are often seen hunting around streetlights in towns, which is where insects, & consequently bats hunting insects, tend to congregate at dusk. When preying on insects, it is necessary for the owls to eat a very large number, as they are quite small & take a lot of effort & energy to catch. Despite this, Spotted Eagle Owls mainly lives on a diet of predominantly insects. When preying on mammals, the Spotted Eagle Owls will usually use the technique of still hunting, often catching the prey on the ground with a single steep swoop from their perch. If the prey is energetic, the Spotted Eagle Owls will often chase the prey for considerable distances. Investigations into the birds that the Spotted Eagle Owls prey on show a large variety, including terns, hornbills & even Lanner Falcons (Falco biarmicus). Basically, the Spotted Eagle Owls are very versatile when it comes to prey, feeding off anything they are able to catch, which enables them to survive fluctuations in prey populations.