Glaucidium capense (African barred owlet, Barred owl) 

Gebande uil [Afrikaans]; Kakuru (also applied to other owl species) [Kwangali]; Zizi (generic name for owl) [Shona]; Lerubisana (applied to a number of other owl species) [Tswana]; Kaapse dwerguil [Dutch]; Chevêchette du Cap [French]; Kapkauz [German]; Mocho-barrado [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Strigiformes > Family: Strigidae  

Glaucidium capense (African barred owlet, Barred owl)  Glaucidium capense (African barred owlet, Barred owl) 

African barred owlet. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

African barred owlet. [photo Philip Fourie ©]

The African barred owlet is uncommon in most areas of its range, but is locally common in the Miombo woodlands of Zimbabwe, and northern Botswana. It prefers open woodland, with sparse undergrowth and a stream or river nearby. It eats mainly invertebrates, due to its small size, but it can eat dormice, small birds and reptiles. It nests in natural tree hollows, up to six metres above ground, laying 2-3 eggs, which are presumed to be incubated by the female. The chicks stay in the nest 32-33 days, after which they learn to fly. They usually can fly at 42 days old.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from southern Kenya and Tanzania to southern DRC, Angola, Zambia and southern Africa. Within southern it is locally common in north-eastern Namibia, northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers woodland with sparse undergrowth, especially miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, usually with a river or stream nearby. There have been some sightings in the Eastern Cape, but they are seldom seen and they have are no signs of breeding activities.

Distribution of African barred owlet in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It mainly feeds on invertebrates, supplemented with birds, small mammals and reptiles. The following prey items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It usually nests in tree hollows, which can be up to about 6 metres above ground. It sometimes visit the nest by day, carrying feathers and leaves, which are presumed to be lining for the nest.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs in the period from August-October.
  • Incubation is presumed to be done solely by the female for 28-34 days. It can be extremely stubborn about not leaving the nest, so much so that one can stroke and touch it without protest.
  • The chicks are brooded for 14 days by the female, after which both sexes hunt. The chicks are sometimes fed as many as 40 meals in six hours by both parents. The brood leave the nest after 32-33 days, after which they live in the vicinity of the nest. At about 42 days old, they learn to fly and become fully independent.


Locally threatened in the Eastern Cape, where the subspecies G. c. capense occurs. This subspecies used to occur in KwaZulu-Natal, but since retreated to isolated areas in the Eastern cape.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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