African Wood Owl, Bosuil, Strix woodfrodii
The African Wood Owl
The African Wood Owl is found in forested habitats up to 2100m above sea level throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In Southern Africa, they are found in North-Eastern Namibia, Northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Central, and South Mozambique. In South Africa, they are found in the North-Eastern Parts of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces, Kwazulu Natal south to the Western Cape where they are found in patches around Cape Town and the Cederberg mountains.
African Wood Owls are 30-36cm tall, the male weighs around 250g and the female around 335g. Both sexes look alike in plumage and coloration.
They are a locally common species, a pair can exist in a 50ha patch of suitable wooded habitat, sometimes they are in small isolated populations due to patchy habitat.
As previously mentioned they can be found in any densely wooded areas including moist evergreen forest, tall deciduous woodland, riparian forest, dense coastal bush and well- treed gardens. Alien tree species like pines and eucalypts trees may have allowed their range to expand in some areas.
They live as territorial pairs. African Wood Owls are strictly nocturnal only rarely calling from roosting spots late in the afternoon.
African Wood Owls often roosts low down among creepers, against a large branch or in the tangled undergrowth.
A pair will usually roost in separate spots except during breeding season. African Wood Owls has normally several roost spots in their territory.
African Wood Owls hunts mainly from favorite low perch, dropping onto prey on the ground, the prey is often located by sound.
At times they will hawk insects or bats in flight or will glean insects off foliage.
African Wood Owls eats mainly insects and small birds but also rodents, frogs, bird nestlings and at times snakes.
The African Wood Owl is monogamous and territorial, in extensive forests or along large river systems territories may be contiguous, the nests can be 0.5ha apart.
The African Wood Owl normally makes its nest in a natural tree hole with side or top entrance. Nests have been found from 60cm (23 inches) above ground to as high as 30m (100 feet) above ground. In Botswana, they normally lay eggs from August to November, in South Africa from July to October. Usually, 1-3 eggs are laid, the incubation period is 31 days, the male will feed the female. African Wood Owls are probably single brooded but in Zimbabwe 2 pairs over 7 seasons together has fledged 17 young from a total of 24 eggs.
African Wood Owls are not threatened, their range may actually have expanded into wooded suburban gardens as in the Western Cape and more arid areas of the Free State province.
Information provided by Roberts Birds of Southern Africa.
Photos were taken at Dullstroom Birds of Prey center.
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