The southern white-faced owl is a huge scops-owl, although relatively modest compared to other large owls. Black-and-white face with a gray back and whitish underside. Broadleaved woods and thorny savannas are their preferred habitat. The Northern White-faced Owl is a distinct species with a different call and a smaller vocal range. Like other scops-owls, this one has ear tufts, but its orange eyes are the star. Though previously considered a subspecies of the northern white-faced owl, the two species are increasingly being viewed distinctly. They can be found from southern Uganda and Kenya to the Dominican Republic of the Congo and South Africa. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the northeastern part of South Africa are the most common locations to find these animals worldwide.
Despite its diminutive size, this owl has nocturnal habits and prefers to hunt small animals on the ground rather than fly. When disturbed, it grows its plumage and spreads its wings but then shrinks to resemble an undernourished and ill animal, making it unappealing to hunters.
The White-Faced Owl in Details
1. Physical Appearance
All birds in this genus are graceful, and this one, too, is a beauty. With its distinctive coloring, the southern white-faced owl’s head is unmistakably unique. Almost every part of its feather is grey, apart from the white face disk and the vivid orange eyes with a black outline. Some white mustaches-like dangling feathers may be seen drooping from the upper section of the yellow beak. Almost all the beak’s surface is obscured by the feathers surrounding it. They have gray legs with strong claws that are easy to see. Because of the black stripes covering the entire body, it is even easier to conceal in the wild. The skull features two distinct tufts, quickly conjuring up the impression of a pair of semi-erected ears.
Males, southern white-faced owls, can weigh between 185 and 215 grams, and females weigh between 215 and 277 grams. While its wingspans range from 191 to 206 mm, and its tails are between 88 and 100 mm long.
2. Diet and Food
Hunting is done by leaping from one branch to another, surveying the ground and surrounding plants for prey to assault and snatch from the bushes. Rodents, birds, shrews, squirrels, scorpions, spiders, beetles, and other insects are everyday prey items for white-faced owls. In terms of size, brush squirrels and doves were the most common prey in the area. At the same time, small rodents make up most of their diet, reaching as much as 81%. When hunting giant prey, the nails of these owls are strong enough to catch and hold their target while the beak is used to pick it apart. As they swoop down, white-faced owls explore the ground and trees for potential meals. They have been known to fly long distances to grass fires to feast on escaping rodents and insects.
3. Distribution and Habitat
The White-faced Southerner Owl is a nocturnal bird. Despite their vast range of habitats, these owls favor open places with scattered trees and prickly bushes, like arid savannahs. Semi-forested areas, forest/clearing borders, and riversides all have them. The white-faced owl is only found in southern Africa and Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa.
4. Breeding and Reproduction
During the southern white-faced owl breeding season, the birds will not mate with one another. Natural holes in tree trunks or branches are preferable, but larger birds’ nests can also be used when they’re not in use. To attract a partner, males sing loudly, usually around dusk but sometimes throughout the night. The female will sing a duet with the male and then respond to his shriek with a feeble one of her own. Male and females work together to care for and protect their young after mating.
The month of July to August is a peak in egg-laying. Only on a few occasions in February and May will a white-faced owl produce eggs. Typically, two to four white eggs are in the clutch, each measuring 38.1 to 42.4 mm across by 31.3 to 34.5 mm high. When chicks are born, the males take care of the chicks, and both parents go out to get food. The chicks fledge and begin to leave the nest at four weeks, spending two to five days in the surrounding jungle until they can fly. Approximately two weeks after that, when the young are seven weeks old, they depart the nest.
To raise their young, Southern White-faced Owls put in a lot of effort and time. While their female partner does the incubation work, their male partner can often be seen hunting for food to return to the nest. He may even take over incubation duties for a short time, allowing the female to rest. Before either spouse takes up responsibility for food provision, both male and female must work together for the first few weeks after the egg has been laid.
5. Importance of White-Faced to Humans
One interesting contribution of these birds to the human populace is their contribution to making the human environment safe from rodents and dangerous small mammals. These birds help keep rodent populations under control since they eat a lot of small mammals, about 81 percent of their diet.
More Interesting Facts about White-Faced Owl
Although the southern white-faced owl is undeniably beautiful, its beauty is often overshadowed by the fact that it is largely unknown to the public. A nocturnal bird with large, heart-shaped eyes on the front of the head, a short, powerful beak, and soft plumage that functions as an effective natural flight suppressor. They prefer to live in tree cavities and rocky regions, where they can hear and see well. Except for Antarctica and locations that are too dry or cold, these birds can be found almost anywhere on the planet.
The southern white-faced owl’s ability to defend itself sets it apart from other members of the Strigiformes family. The southern-white-faced owl extends its wings and “inflates” its feathers when it is disturbed or frightened to appear larger and scare the opponent away. However, this bird can reduce its size almost to the point where it seems sick or dying, thereby scaring off the giant predator. Although it may be raised in captivity, an expert breeder must know its unique requirements. To meet the energy needs of these birds, a well-balanced and diverse food must be provided. Because they enjoy being petted and are unafraid of men, these dogs can become quite affectionate and devoted to their owners. They don’t need to have large cages or areas because they are so little if they have enough room to run around and rest on branches and tree stumps.