Southern White-faced Owl (Ptilopsis granti)

It is a large owl coming from scops family, but still related to the larger species of owl. It has a grayish back, dull and barred below, accentuated by a black-and-white face. It thrives in the thorny savannas and arid dense-leaved woodlands. This bird closely resembles the Northern White-faced Owl and was formerly regarded as its subspecies. It has a distinct call, s a rapid series of “hu” or longer “hwooow.”

Read further to know more about the Southern White-faced Owl.

What is a Southern White-faced Owl?

Southern-white faced owl (Ptilopsis granti) is a relatively small owl in the Strigidae family. This bird is native in sub-Saharan Africa. They are usually seen alone or in pairs, mainly feeding on large insects, small birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Strigiformes

Family: Strigidae

Genus: Ptilopsis

Species: P. granti

Southern White-faced Owl Physical Description

Southern White-faced Owls is a smallish-type of an owl, growing from 8.6 to 9.8 inches or 22-25 centimeters and weighing around 185 to 275 grams. Females are slightly larger and heavier than females.

These birds easily distinguishable through their white facial disc circled by a black plumage. Thus, their name. Their eyes are orange-red to red, also surrounded by a black rim. Their upperparts are dark grayish, while their crown feathers, nape, mantle, and ear-tuffs, have prominent streaks and delicate surface patterns.

Where can they be spotted?

White-faced owls thrive in savannas where there are scattered groups of thorny shrubs, and trees, arid open woods, and woody areas along clearings, forest edges, and rivers. They refrain locations where rainforest in dense, or treeless deserts. It has an extensive range, starting from southern Uganda, south Kenya, Angola, Congo, Namibia, and Natal and the Cape Province.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Southern White-faced Owl

Southern white-faced owls diet primarily revolves on large insects such as scorpions, spiders, and small reptiles, birds, and mammals. These birds hunt from a perch, then drops and glides over the ground to catch prey then perch on a new branch. They take and hold their victims using their powerful talons and tear them using their bills.

Southern white-faced owls facial discs aren’t only good aesthetically as this feature serves as satellite dishes. It amplifies and channels sound to their ears, allowing them to detect even their prey’s slightest sound.

These owls are nocturnal, which means they hunt at night. During the day, they rest or roost in tree canopies. Their distinct plumage and quiet demeanor make them harder to notice, keeping them away from possible threats. However, at night, their distinct calls allow trackers and rangers to locate their location pretty easier.

Southern white-faced owls’ call starts with fast, stammering ‘hu’ trills, succeeded by a sharp, deep, long, ‘hwooow’ sound, which often rises in pitch. These birds repeat the sounds at specific intervals within several seconds.

During their breeding season, the male white-faced owl sings, usually at dusk, though may last through the entire night. Once they enter the courtship stage, both sexes perform a duet, with the female answering her chosen mate with a subtle shrieking sound.

These owls build their nests in holes found on branches and trunks. Though, they also tend nest formerly used by other larger birds. The female usually lays the eggs from May to Novembermber, peaking during the dry season, generally from July to August.

Their clutch usually consists of 2-3 white eggs, which the female will incubate for about a month. Meanwhile, the male will be responsible for providing food. After hatching, the chicks will fledge in about four weeks and learn how to fly a few days later. They will still be under parental care for around two weeks before dispersing from the family group.

Southern white-faced owls are not globally threatened and classified as least concern species under the IUCN Red List.



Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve



Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands


Caprivi Region


Etosha National Park

Namib-Naukluft National Park

Skeleton Coast



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park




Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls

Whitefaced Owl