Photo: Spotted Eagle Owls

20May
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Owls Jacques Mattheysen

Photo of the week goes to photographic specialist Jacques for this captivating photograph of a trio of spotted eagle owls taken at Kariega Game Reserve. Canon 1dm4 + 300mm @ 1/500 – f7.1 – iso 800.

Spotted Eagle Owls Found Across South Africa

Spotted eagle owls (Bubo africanus) are commonly seen in rocky or well-wooded areas across South Africa. While their eyes are well developed for night vision they cannot see well in total darkness making hunting on dark nights difficult. To compensate they have excellent hearing and their ears can pick up even the faintest sound of moving rodents and insects.

Spotted Eagle Owls are Silent Flyers

Owls feathers have two adaptations that help them to fly very quietly. The first is feathers with serrated edges and the second is soft fluffy feathers. The serrated edges help to break up or diffuse the air and the fluffy ones assist to absorb sound. If you have seen an owl take off you will know how quiet they are. 

Spotted eagle owls are thus able to swoop silently to catch their prey in their talons. They are also feisty hunters on the ground and can chase and catch small animals on foot. These owls are also talented hunters in the air and catch bats, birds and insects while on the wing.

Spotted Eagle Owls and Hamerkops

Spotted eagle owls regularly steal nests from other birds, particularly hamerkops. They like these nests as they are very large, often up to 2.5 metres tall. A family of spotted eagle owls will wait for the hamerkop to complete the large structure and when they head out in search of food, the eagle owls move in! 

Kariega Guests Caption Owl Photo

Thank you to our guests who responded to our call to caption this photograph of three spotted eagle owls that we recently posted on our Kariega Facebook page. Your comments were so entertaining we wanted to share them!

Sue Curtis: “Just act natural, and they may go away!”

Victoria Martin: “Look into my eyes … look into my eyes. You’re getting sleepy.”

Justine Pridding: “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”

AJ Tunmer: “Don’t think about messing with our Kariega Game Reserve.”

Jimmy Tarbox: “Two whits and a whoooo!”

Claire Pomfret Gallow: “Do you see what I see?”

Charlie Anderson: “Who, what, where?”

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