10 cool things about spotted eagle-owls

Owls are such magnificent birds and we need to protect them from becoming extinct. Let’s find out what are the ten cool things of the spotted eagle-owl.

  1. All over the place

Chances are great that the owl you noticed is a spotted eagle-owl, because they are spread out quite widely south of the equator on the African continent. They will live in just about any habitat except the desert, and they are not too fussy about where they roost and nest – you will find them in treetops, on cliff ledges, under shrubs, on the ground and inside tree hollows.

2. Suburban living

Their adaptability is key to their survival and the reason why you will see these nocturnal birds in suburban areas with parks and green gardens. As long as it is a safe place where they can nest and roost without disturbance during the day, they will set up a home. If they are happy with their nesting spot, they will most likely return annually.

3. Smallest eagle-owl

The spotted eagle-owl is the smallest of all the eagle-owls. He grows up to 45cm, weighs in at around 700g and his wingspan is about 1m. The tufts above his ears and his big, bright yellow eyes are his distinctive features. He looks very similar to the Cape eagle-owl, just smaller.

4. What an appetite!

This owl has a huge appetite, and his menu is determined by his surroundings. He will eat anything from insects and frogs to lizards, small mammals and birds. Due to his excellent vision, he will wait high up in a tree or even on a street pole, or fly slowly in the air, until he spots his prey. He will then swoop down.

5. Chew your food

He swallows his prey whole: bones, fur and all. If the prey is too big to swallow, he will tear it into smaller pieces. Six to 12 hours later the owl will regurgitate a ball of bones and pieces of skull as evidence of what his meal was.

6. Such a night owl

This nocturnal raptor comes out at dusk from his place of hiding – it is after all the time when his prey is most active. You will often find spotted eagle-owls at night perched on street lights where they can look down on unsuspecting prey.

7. What big eyes you’ve got

To be able to hunt at night, he needs excellent vision and hearing – exactly what this owl has. As with all owls, he has to turn his entire head to look in a certain direction because he can’t rotate his eyeballs. Owls are also far-sighted, but their sight is excellent in low light conditions.

Although you cannot see his ears, he has acute hearing that allows him to pinpoint a sound even if he can’t see anything.

8. Camouflage tactics

The spotted eagle-owl camouflages himself with brown feathers of different shades that blend in well with his typical surroundings. The soft and fluffy feathers allow him to fly up to prey in complete silence, making him an excellent hunter.

During the day, this owl will sit stock-still in his roosting spot with closed eyes and his feathers drawn tightly to his body. You would be very lucky to see a spotted eagle-owl during the day, and if you do, please don’t disturb him – he needs his sleep.

9. The voice

The male and female will often sing a duet, with the female’s voice at a slightly higher pitch than the male’s. When they communicate with each other they will sing either two or three noted hoots, while when alarmed they will give a single hoot.

10. Partners for life

These birds are partners for life. When they are nesting the males will hunt and bring food to the female. The female lays two to four eggs, which hatch between 32 and 34 days later.