Glaucidium perlatum (Pearl-spotted owlet, Pearl-spotted owl) 

Witkoluil [Afrikaans]; iNkovana [Zulu]; Kakuru (also applied to other owl species) [Kwangali]; Zizi (generic name for owl) [Shona]; Mankhudu (also applied to African wood-owl) [Tsonga]; Lerubisana (applied to a number of other owl species) [Tswana]; Geparelde dwerguil [Dutch]; Chevêchette perlée [French]; Perlkauz [German]; Mocho-perlado [Portuguese]

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Glaucidium perlatum (Pearl-spotted owlet, Pearl-spotted owl)  Glaucidium perlatum (Pearl-spotted owlet, Pearl-spotted owl) 

Pearl-spotted owlet. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Pearl-spotted owlet, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Arno Meintjes ©]

The Pearl-spotted owlet is common in many parts of Southern Africa, where it can be found in open woodland, thorn savannah and bushveld. Unlike most owls, it hunts in the day as well as the night, feeding mainly on invertebrates, with small mammals and birds making up most of the remainder of its diet. It mainly nests in tree holes, usually made by barbets or woodpeckers. It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated mainly by the female. Once hatched, chicks stay in the nest for 27-32 days, after which they live in bushes nearby, being fed by their parents for at least 14 days longer.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding equatorial lowland forest and desert. Within southern Africa it is common in northern and central Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and northern South Africa. It generally prefers open thorn savanna, bushveld and sparse woodland, avoiding open grassland, shrubland and dense forests.

Distribution of Pearl-spotted 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.  

Food 

Strangely for an owl, it hunts opportunistically in the day as well as the night. It eats mainly invertebrates, supplemented with small birds, mammal, reptiles and amphibians. It often flicks or wags its tail and bobs its head up and down when excited about hunting. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

Glaucidium perlatum (Pearl-spotted owlet, Pearl-spotted owl)   

Pearl-spotted owlet peeping out of its nest, Roodeplaatdam Dam, South Africa. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

 
  • Egg-laying season is from August-November, peaking from September-October.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated mainly done by the female for 28-29 days. The male occasionally takes over so that the female can have a break.
  • The chicks stay in the nest for 27-31 days, after which they live near the nest in dense bush, where they are fed by their parents for at least another 14 days.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact common in many parts of southern Africa.

References

  • 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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