Bird of the Week – African scops owl

THE tiny African scops owl is between 13 and 18 cm in length.

It is a sparse to locally common resident, over most of the Northern and Eastern regions of South Africa.

The owl inhabits almost any woodland but mainly the drier savanna. They are nocturnal.

The bird’s call is a high pitched purring ‘krrrr’ at five second intervals for up to 40 calls. Male and female sing from dusk, each answering one another.

Scops owls roost during the day where they are well camouflaged and easily overlooked. Should they be disturbed, they elongate their body and close their eyes completely.

Food mainly consists of insects and scorpions which they drop onto from their perch.

Breeding takes place from September to November. The nest is the floor of a natural hole in a tree between one to nine metres above the ground. Usually three white eggs are laid.

Incubation is between 22 and 28 days. They are nestlings for 25 to 28 days and are fed by the mother, on food brought by father.

The Afrikaans name is skopsuil, and African tribal people call them Xikothlani.

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