If you are planning to go on a wildlife exploration in the central or southern region of Africa, chances are you will come across an African Barred Owlet, a small yet beautiful owl that resides in open habitats with trees.
Read further to know more about the African Barred Owlet!
What is the African Barred Owlet?
The African Barred Owlet, or also known as the Glaucidium capense, is a small owl that belongs in the Strigidae family. The Strigidae family, or also known as true owls, is made up of owl species such as the Eastern Screech Owl, Crested Owl, White-faced Owl, Bare-legged Owl, and Elf Owl. This owl species is endemic in the central and southern parts of the African continent. Several numbers of its kind were also sighted in eastern Africa.
The African Barred Owlet has three subspecies, although many authorities recognize these subspecies as separate species. The subspecies are as follows:
Glaudicium capense capense – This subspecies is found in southern Mozambique, Kwazulu-Natal, and Eastern Cape.
Glaudicium capense ngamiense – This subspecies is present in eastern Congo, central Tanzania, northern Namibia, and small parts of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
Glaudicium capense schefflera – This owl subspecies can be found in southern coastal Somalia and other parts of Tanzania and Kenya.
Although threatened in some places in Africa, the general population of the African Barred Owlet is widely distributed and at a steady rise. Therefore, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorized this owl species as Least Concern.
Its seven levels of classification are as follows:
Species: G. capense
Physical characteristics of the African Barred Owlet
The African Barred Owlet is smaller compared to its close relatives. It has a pale brown facial disc that has white concentric lines. Its white eyebrows highlight its yellow eyes. The bill and cere are greenish-grey with hints of yellow in color. Its head, nape, and upperparts are either greyish-brown or dark brown with white bars and spots.
Its scapulars and flight feathers are cinnamon-brown in color, with streaks of white prints over. The African Barred Owl’s throat and chest are off-white with large, dark brown dots. Its legs are white, toes are brownish-yellow in color, while the claws are black. Unlike other owls, the African Barred Owl has no ear tufts.
An adult African Barred Owlet is a can grow up to 20-22 cm and can weight 81-139 g. Its wing length ranges from 131-150 mm, while its tail length ranges from 74-101 mm. Females are usually larger than males.
African Barred Owlet’s distribution and habitat
This owl species thrives in southern, central, and eastern parts of Africa. African Barred Owlets can also be found on Mafia Island. They frequent to habitats with trees, such as gallery forests, woodland savannahs, forest edges, riverine forests, and other open areas.
The behavior of an African Barred Owlet
This owl is deemed a partly diurnal bird because its vocal activities occur at dusk and dawn and during night time. It has been observed that African Barred Owlets are active searchers for prey even during the day. These birds also enjoy taking a bath at a nearby water source.
A male African Barred Owlet’s song is a series of 9-8 equally spaced whistles that sound “kweeu-kweeu-kweeu-kweeu-kweeu-kweeu.” This song is often repeated after 15-20 seconds. In response, the female African Barred Owlet will sing the same song, although slightly higher-pitched than the male. When both owls are excited, they will sing a series of short purring notes. When the pair are at a nest, they utter soft “twoo” calls.
Both sexes usually sing to mark their territory before the breeding season. The female African Barred Owlet usually lays 2-3 eggs between September and November. The nest is often a natural cavity or a tree hole made by a woodpecker. After hatching, the young will be taken care of by both parents. After a month of incubation, they will leave their nests, but their parents will still guide them. These little African Barred Owlets will then reach adulthood by the time they reach seven months.
An African Barred Owlet’s diet usually consists of small rodents, small mammals, birds, frogs, reptiles, insects, caterpillars, and scorpions.
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