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Spotted Eagle-Owl @ Eastern Shores - iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Photo: Håvard Rosenlund

Spotted Eagle-Owl

Spotted Eagle-Owl - Bubo africanus - Ditribution MapThe spotted eagle-owl (Bubo africanus) is one of the smallest species of eagle-owl with a length averaging 45 cm (18 in) and a weight between 480-850 g (1.1-1.9 lb). Wingspan reaches 1-1.4 m (39-55 in). It has a largely brown to grey plumage with white spots and blotches. Chest and belly is lighter with a fine brown to grey barring. As many other eagle-owls, the spotted eagle-owl has two feathery tufts on the top of the head, resembling horns. Eyes are a bright yellow. Specimens with orange eyes and a more chestnut color can be found in more arid environments.

Diet and habitat

Spotted eagle-owls are found in various habitats, such as woodland, savannah, and rocky desert outcrops. Prefered habitat is a mix of open landscape, hills and scattered trees. It is, like most owls, nocturnal, and will emerge from its roosting place to hunt at dusk. Diet is varied and it will feed on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and invertebrates. When hunting it will silently swoop down toward its prey and either catch it directly or pursue it on foot. Flying prey may also be caught in mid-air. Many prey animals will be swallowed whole if not too large. It will also readily feed on carrion.

Nesting

The spotted eagle-owl is a monogamous species and will form strong bonds with its partner. Breeding pairs often stay together for life. Breeding season starts in July and ends in the beginning of February. A nest is typically made as a small scrape on the ground, often hidden amongst rocks, beneath a bush or in the cover of grass. Nests have also been recorded on window ledges. If successful, a nest might be reused, and sometimes over multiple generations. Two to four eggs are laid and incubated by the female for one month while the male brings her food. The young leaves the nest after 30-38 days, and will be dependent on both parent for another five weeks. They reach sexual maturity after one year. A spotted eagle-owl generally live for ten years in the wild and up to twenty in captivity

Status

The spotted eagle-owl is widespread and is one of the most common owl species in sub-Saharan Africa. There are no immediate threat to the population and it is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.

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