Owls (Family Strigidae)

Discussions and information on all Southern African Birds
Peter Betts
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Re: Owls

Post by Peter Betts » Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:45 pm

Magic little Pearlie down for a drink..Same place where I saw a flock of Burntnecked Eremomelas drinking

Klipspringer
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African Wood Owl Strix woodfordii

Post by Klipspringer » Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:19 am

African Wood Owl at Olifants River Webcam 07/26/2020
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https://www.sanbi.org/animal-of-the-wee ... -wood-owl/

Official Common Name:
African Wood Owl

Derivation of scientific name:
The African Wood Owl and a number of Neotropical owl species were previously placed in the genus Ciccaba, but due to their close relatedness to species of the genus Strix, they have now been included in the genus Strix (Claus et al. 1999). The Latin name Strix referred to a legendary vamparic owl-monster believed to suck the blood of infants (Jobling 2010). Strix woodfordii (African Wood Owl) took its name from a British soldier of the Napoleonic Wars who was also a naturalist, Colonel E.J.A. Woodford (Rael 2005).

Common names:
African Wood Owl (Eng.); bosuil (Afr.); zizi (chiShona); mankhudu (xiTsonga); lerubisana (Setswana); ibengwana (isiXhosa); uMabhengwane/uNobathekeli (isiZulu); leribiši (Sepedi)

The African Wood Owl is the most common owl in the woodlands and forests throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Description/How to recognize a……..
The African wood owl is medium sized at about 33 cm in height and weighs approximately 290 g, with the males and females being alike (Chittenden et al. 2016). Although there is individual variation in coloration from chocolate to buffy-rufous, the African Wood Owl generally has a pale rufous facial disc with fine grey barring, white eyebrows, dark-rimmed eyes, a dark rufous upper part and it lacks ear tuffs (Hockey et al. 2005, Chittenden et al. 2016).

The tail and the flight feathers are barred pale and dark brown, the underpart is barred russet, dark brown and off white (Hockey et al. 2005). The bill and cere are yellow, the legs are pale buff, barred pale dusky brown and feathered to the toes with yellow feet (Hockey et al. 2005). The juveniles fledges with pale rufous down (soft feathers found under the tougher exterior feathers of a bird), which is retained for up to five months (Chittenden et al. 2016).

Getting around
Little is known about the movement of the African Wood Owl except that it is mostly sedentary, although the juveniles are believed to be dispersive as they do not remain in the parental territory forever (Kemp & Calburn 1987).

Communicating
The African Wood Owl emerges after dark and usually calls soon thereafter, the calling continues for long periods and at intervals throughout the night, especially in summer (Hockey et al. 2005). The call of the African Wood Owl is a rhythmic series of hoots (who-who, who-who-who, who-are-you) and the calls often alternate between sexes, when the young ones beg, they give a short wheezing call (Steyn 1982).

Distribution
The African Wood Owl is found in forested habitats up to 2 100 m2 throughout sub-Saharan Africa (Fabian 1973). It is found in large parts of Africa, including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, eSwatini and South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, patchily west to Cape Town and Cederberg, W Cape) (Malan & Steele 1994, Mendelsohn 1997). The range of this species has expanded into well-wooded suburban areas close to indigenous forests (Chittenden et al. 2016).

Habitat
The African Wood Owl is recorded from densely wooded areas including moist evergreen forests, tall deciduous woodland, riparian forests, dense coastal bush and well-treed gardens (Mendelsohn 1997; Steyn 1982). The African Wood Owl is also known to inhabit alien pines and eucalypts, and this may have allowed range expansion in some areas (Malan & Steele 1994).

Food
The African Wood Owl mainly hunts from low perches, dropping on the prey on the ground with prey probably located by sound (Kemp & Calburn 1987). Sometimes it hawks insects or bats in flight or picks insects from vegetation (Kemp & Calburn 1987). It feeds mostly on insects, small birds, rodents, frogs, small snakes, small mammals and centipedes (Hockey et al. 2005, Chittenden et al. 2016, Anon 1962).

SEX and LIFE CYCLES
Sex:
The African Wool Owl is monogamous and each pair occupies a territory (Scott 1980; Steyn 1982; Steyn 1984; Steyn & Myburgh 1991; Steyn & Scott 1973) in extensive forests or along large rivers, and these territories may be contiguous (Hockey et al. 2005). Mate fidelity is believed to be high (Steyn 1982) and the African Wood Owl usually nests in a natural tree hole with a side or top entrance (Hockey et al. 2005, Chittenden et al. 2016). The dates for laying eggs differ depending on locality.

In South Africa, one to two eggs are laid between July and October (Kemp & Calburn 1987), with two eggs often reported (Lepage 1999). Incubation takes about 31 days (Steyn 1982). After hatching, the nestlings stays in the nest for 30 to 37 days, juveniles (fledglings) then spend about three weeks hiding in vegetation close to parents until they fly well after about 46 days (Harvey 1977). It take about 14 days for the female to lay other eggs if a clutch is lost (Scott 1986).

Family life:
The African Wood Owl only has one mate at a time and is a very territorial bird (Scott 1980; Steyn 1984; Steyn & Myburgh 1991; Steyn & Scott 1973). The birds are believed to be faithful to just that one partner (Steyn 1982), and hence frequently pairs.

THE BIG PICTURE

Friends and foes
Most owl species including the African Wood Owl watch over their young closely, but because they are hunters, they often leave the owlets unattended, making them vulnerable to predators such as cats and dogs and other birds of prey (animals.mom.me 2018). The predators, however, are quite careful when approaching the owl’s nests, because owls can easily kill four-footed attackers, and will not hesitate to do so when protecting their young. Although owls are formidable birds of prey, other strong birds of prey such as eagles and hawks attack owls (animals.mom.me 2018).

Smart strategies
The African Wood Owl is one of those species of birds that are incredibly good at camouflaging and therefore are extremely efficient in hiding from predators and prey, especially in the daytime when they are mostly inactive (www.boredpanda.com 2018). During hunting, the owl’s wings are silent so as to catch the prey by surprise and because they mostly hunt at night, this is also a good technique used to capture prey with ease.

Poorer world without me
Owls, including the African Wood Owl, feed on small rodents in agricultural areas, and thus control the rodent population, which might otherwise eat crops in the field or in storage. Owls are also widely sought out by bird watchers who highly values sightings of these elusive and mysterious predators (http://science.jrank.org 2018).

People & I
All owls, including the African Wood Owl, have been linked with death, evil and other superstitions from ancient times, and many cultures believes owls are a sign of death, having reported to have predicted the death of Julius Caesar (www.mentalfloss.com 2018; www.quora.com 2018). They have also been associated with witches and other so-called evil beings. Many cultures unfortunately still have these superstitions about owls and in some places owls are killed based on these beliefs. In many other cultures, owls represent wisdom and knowledge because their nocturnal vigilance is associated with that of the studious scholar or wise elder (www.mentalfloss.com 2018; www.quora.com 2018).

Conservation status and what the future holds
The African Wood Owl has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence < 20 000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The trend of its population appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (> 30% decline over ten years or three generations).

The population size has not been quantified, although it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (< 10 000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be > 10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For the above mentioned reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (www.iucnredlist.org 2016).

As the African Wood Owl is completely dependent on forest and woodland habitat, it is very susceptible to deforestation (www.iucnredlist.org 2016).

RELATIVES
The African wood owl belongs to the family Strigidae and this family constitutes species of a group informally known as the ‘true owls’. The family Strigidae comprises of about 25 genera (Cholewiak 2003), which consists of 17 species (Giniri 2017) including Strix woodfordii (African Wood Owl) and the species in the genus Strix are generally known as the Wood owls.

Scientific Name and Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Strix
Species: S. woodfordii (Smith A., 1834)


Listen to the call:

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Richprins
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Re: Owls (Family Strigidae)

Post by Richprins » Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:07 am

:ty:
Please check Needs Attention pre-booking: https://africawild-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=322&t=596

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Lisbeth
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Re: Owls (Family Strigidae)

Post by Lisbeth » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:18 am

^Q^ ^Q^

Lots of lovely background sounds O\/
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Klipspringer
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Re: Owls (Family Strigidae)

Post by Klipspringer » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:21 pm

I think this is the most difficult owl to spot lol

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Lisbeth
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Re: Owls (Family Strigidae)

Post by Lisbeth » Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:47 pm

I had never even heard about it, until a few weeks ago :o0ps:
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela
The desire for equality must never exceed the demands of knowledge

Peter Betts
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Re: Owls (Family Strigidae)

Post by Peter Betts » Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:40 am

In Kruger Best place is around Skukuza ..But I dont stay at 'Times Square ' LOL

Peter Betts
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Re: Owls (Family Strigidae)

Post by Peter Betts » Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:45 am

Peter Betts wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:38 am
Richprins wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:07 am
:ty:
My Boggy Bird ..The only owl I havent seen...In PE italong with the SpottedEagle Owl is the Most common ..Unfortunately Settlers Park is THE Best place to see it in E Cape where it is common in forested areas ..Unfortunately you now have to go there with a crowd and armed protection otherwise your Swarovski Binos and camera and Tripod will be relieved from you by the illegal Bush Dwellers ..Another bit of enjoyment taken away by thugs O/ O/ O/ @#$ @#$ @#$ Obviously Night would be best time and the Municipal light stands are great places for them to sit I am told by my birding mates but I think I have more chance with saving my life if I were to Live in the Covid ward at our Livingstone Hospital with no PPE's for a month!!

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Lisbeth
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Re: Owls (Family Strigidae)

Post by Lisbeth » Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:57 pm

A VERY FUSSY TENANT: THE AFRICAN GRASS OWL

Image

Rebotile Rachuene, African Grass Owl Project Officer, Birds of Prey Programme – tselanaer@ewt,org.za
Innocent Buthelezi, Field Officer, Wildlife and Transport Programme – innocentb@ewt.org.za


Did you know that there are 12 different owl species in southern Africa? Even if you know about all these species, they can be tricky to identify, as most owls are nocturnal and nest either in thick, long grass, or high up in a tree. Many experts identify the different owls by their call, their behaviour, or their specific habitat. The African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis) makes a soft tk-tk-tk-tk sound in the wing.

One of the species that the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is working to conserve is the Vulnerable African Grass Owl, a species within the Barn Owl family. Grass Owls are often confused with the Barn Owl (Tyto alba), as they have similar body shapes and markings, or the Marsh Owl (Asio capensis), which occupies similar habitat. Do you know how to tell them apart? Here are a couple of tips in case you don‘t:

Image
African Grass Owl (Tyrone McKendry)

Both the African Grass Owl and the Barn Owl have heart-shaped, white facial discs, but the African Grass Owl has much darker upperparts than Barn Owls.

Barn Owls are mainly arboreal (tree-dwelling), occurring in a diverse range of habitats – from deserts to moist savanna. They are also often found near human habitation, roosting in caves, hollow trees, and mine shafts (Sinclair 2002).

Image
Barn Owl

The African Grass Owl is one of only two ground nesting owls, the other being the Marsh Owl.

Both the African Grass and Marsh owls prefer vleis and marshes, and are more restricted to undisturbed patches of tall, dense grass.

Image
African Marsh Owl (Anton van Niekerk)

Marsh Owls have a dusky (not plain white) face and underparts, and noticeably rounded wings with buff patches at the base of the primaries (Sinclair 2002). The feet of the Marsh Owl do not protrude past the end of the tail, whereas those of the larger African Grass Owl do.

As a nocturnal, ground nesting bird, the African Grass Owl must protect itself and potentially its eggs or young from predation, and so roosts in tall, dense grasses, where it creates dome-shaped structures and tunnels by trampling down the surrounding grass. This technique ensures that the nest is barely visible, but this in turn makes it extremely vulnerable when these areas are ploughed, drained, or burned for agricultural purposes, trampled by grazing livestock, and impacted by mining and development activities. These activities all cause significant damage to active breeding sites, as well as direct habitat loss.

Arson and natural fires contribute to almost 60% of African Grass Owl mortality, and damage to their habitat. In addition to natural predation of the nests by species such as Bush Pig, Black-backed Jackal and Caracal, the nests are also trampled on, or the owls are predated upon, by dogs used for illegal hunting. The threats to their habitat have in some cases forced African Grass Owls to roost in open areas closer to other dangers, such as urban areas and rapidly expanding road networks. It is critical that we not only monitor these threats on population levels, but also identify ways to safeguard these breeding sites from human activities.

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Fire contributes almost 60% of Grass Owl mortality and habitat destruction. Photo credit Tyrone Mckendry

To understand the negative impacts of roads on the African Grass Owl, the EWT’s Wildlife and Transport Programme (WTP) has partnered with the country’s three major toll agencies, Bakwena N1/N4, N3TC and TRACN4. All three toll routes pass through a diverse range of habitats, including urban landscapes, communal land, and agricultural areas. The toll companies’ route patrollers have been gathering road mortality data for the WTP, and owls are among the most common roadkill species recorded. One reason for this is that small rodents are attracted to the road due to truck-grain-spillage, and owls perch on poles by the roadside to predate upon these rodents. The owls may also fly across the road between nesting and feeding sites, or in search of a mate. The African Grass Owl is therefore particularly vulnerable between February and April, during its breeding period, when it is most active.

One way to minimise owl roadkill, particularly of the ground nesters (e.g. African Grass and Marsh owls), is to prevent grain spillage from trucks, and keeping the grass on the road reserves short to discourage these owls from roosting near the road. Another method to reduce owl roadkill implemented in 2015 by the Springbok Branch of SA Hunters was to erect self-feeders away from the road. These perches effectively act as ‘owl restaurants’, designed to attract granivorous rodents to a focal site, away from the roads. This has seen a reduction in owls being killed on roads, but the this needs to be quantified.

Interestingly, due to the imposed lockdown, resulting from the Covid-19 global pandemic, there has been a reduction in roadkill rates due to reduced traffic volumes on roads, as well as the enforced night-time curfew. Reports from local landowners and partners of the African Grass Owl Project suggest that the species has benefitted from these restrictions, with many nests remaining intact. This is indeed great news for this species and demonstrates that there is hope for the conservation of the African Grass Owl. This begs the question – will the lessons learned from the lockdown help us to save this beautiful and charismatic bird species from the negative impact of human activity? The country’s lockdown, which was put in place to prevent the spread of the Covid 19 disease, provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to determine if reduced human presence and their use of roads, can see a return of wildlife to their natural habitats. Could this motivate for our railways to be utilised more to transfer freight so that large trucks are removed from the roads? Only time will tell, and it is critical that we continue to maintain sustained collaborative relationships with our landowners and partners in conserving the African Grass Owl and monitor our long-term conservation impact systematically.

The African Grass Owl Project is proudly supported by the National Geographic Society and the Mafube Coal Mine (Middleburg). Thanks to Bakwena, N3TC and TRAC for their kind support with roadkill data collection.

Remember to celebrate Owl Awareness Day on 4 August 2020!
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela
The desire for equality must never exceed the demands of knowledge

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Richprins
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Re: Owls (Family Strigidae)

Post by Richprins » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:05 am

:ty:
Please check Needs Attention pre-booking: https://africawild-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=322&t=596

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