Tag Archives: Gevlekte Ooruil

Daphne the Spotted Eagle-owl

Daphne is the sweetest Spotted Eagle-owl you could ever hope to meet (though her table manners leave a lot to be desired). She has lived at the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre all her life. The tree her parents were incubating Daphne in was chopped down and, miraculously, Daphne’s egg was the only one of the clutch that didn’t shatter. The egg was brought to the rehab centre and, on detecting a heartbeat in the egg, they decided to hatch it and raise the chick by hand. While she is imprinted on humans and cannot be released, Daphne’s dear personality is just the ticket to dispel any ill-conceived superstition visitors may hold about owls. She’s a true ambassador for all owl-kind.

As a registered NGO receiving no government support, the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre relies heavily on donors, sponsors and the visiting public to fund their very important work. Their tiny staff compliment is responsible for the rehabilitation of between 80 and 200 birds of prey every year, all of them injured by or negatively impacted in another way by humans, and then releasing them back into the wild when they’ve recovered sufficiently. If you can’t visit them in person, please visit their website and, if you are able to, assist them in their efforts by making a donation (monetary or in kind).

Spotted Eagle-owl

Bubo africanus

The Spotted Eagle-owl is one of our most frequently encountered nocturnal birds, even in towns and cities where they can become quite confiding with humans (beware though that they will defend their nests ferociously!). They’re not very picky about their habitat and feed on an enormous variety of rodents and other small mammals, insects, reptiles, birds, fish, bats, frogs and carrion. Standing about 45cm high, with a wingspan of just over a metre and a weight of 700g the Spotted Eagle Owl is one of the smaller members of its family.

Spotted Eagle Owls breed at anytime of year, though peaking in spring and summer, and nesting in any suitable location be it in a concealed spot on the ground, or in a gully, tree or building (such as our local library’s gutters!) or somewhere else they find to their liking. Broods usually number two or three chicks, hatched after an incubation period lasting almost 5 weeks, but as many as six chicks have been recorded. Pairs are monogamous and while the female is responsible for incubating the clutch of eggs the male supplies her with food at the nest. Juveniles become fully independent about four months after leaving the nest, which happens about 5 weeks after they’ve hatched. Spotted Eagle Owls may live for about ten years in the wild and much longer in captivity.

The Spotted Eagle Owl occurs over virtually all of Africa south of the equator, with a separate population on the Arabian peninsula. The IUCN lists it as being of least concern. It is also a common species in South Africa and can be found in every province. Sadly they are often killed by vehicles when scavenging at road kills at night.