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Snowy Owl – Bubo scandiacus

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4076″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_border_circle_2″][vc_column_text]This yellow-eyed, black-beaked white bird is easily recognisable. It is one of the largest species of owl and, in North America, is on average the heaviest owl species. The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark spots; the young are heavily barred, and dark spotting may even predominate. Its thick plumage, heavily feathered taloned feet, and colouration render the snowy owl well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle.

The snowy owl is a patient hunter that perches and waits to identify its prey before soaring off in pursuit. Snowy owls have keen eyesight and great hearing, which can help them find prey that is invisible under thick vegetation or snow cover. A snowy owl’s preferred meal is lemmings. An adult may eat more than 1,600 lemmings a year, or three to five every day. They also feed on a wide variety of small mammals such as meadow voles and deer mice, but will take larger prey such as hares, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, prairie dogs, ducks, geese, pheasants and grouse.

This species of owl nests on the ground, building a scrape on top of a mound or boulder. A site with good visibility is chosen, such as the top of a mound with ready access to hunting areas and a lack of snow. Clutch sizes range from 3-11 eggs, which are laid singly, approximately every other day over the course of several days. Hatching takes place approximately five weeks after laying, and the pure white young are cared for by both parents. They continue to be fed by the parents for another 5 weeks after they leave the nest. During the nesting season, the owls regularly defend their nests against Arctic foxes, corvids, dogs and grey wolves. Males defend the nest by standing guard nearby while the female incubates the eggs and broods the young. Both genders attack approaching predators, dive-bombing them and engaging in distraction displays to draw the predator away from a nest.
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Tropical Screech Owl – Megascops choliba

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4080″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_border_circle_2″][vc_column_text]The tropical screech owl has a yellow iris and a light grey facial disk, with a prominent black border, the underparts are white with a herring-bone pattern where each feather has black shaft streaks throughout. Crown and upperparts are heavily streaked with dark brown/black, the tail and flight-feathers are barred with brown and light buff.

The Tropical Screech owl is distributed on most of South America east of the Andes from Costa Rica to northern Argentina, east of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, and all over Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. This species is found in a wide variety of habitats. However, Tropical Screech owls occur mostly in semi-open habitats, like timbered savannah, semi-open areas with scattered trees, forest edges, second-growth forests, plantations, and also town parks. Generally they occur in areas from sea level to 1500m, but they have also been recorded at 3000m.

This raptor is almost strictly nocturnal, initiating its activities at dusk. During daytime this owl roosts in dense foliage trees, probably close to the trunks like other Screech Owls. It feeds mostly on large insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, bumblebees, spiders, scorpions, and moths. Occasionally it will take snakes and small mammals such as rats and bats. Usually it perches on low branches and pounces on prey but will also take insects in flight often at electric lights.

The tropical screech owl usually nests in tree cavities, woodpecker holes, knotholes or old nest boxes. A clutch will contain around 1-4 eggs and are laid from February to April. The incubation is done by the female and the young fledge at around 30 days old.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Southern White-faced Scops – Ptilopsis granti

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4081″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_border_circle_2″][vc_column_text]The southern white-faced scops is a fairly small owl. It is native to the southern half of Africa. It was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the northern white-faced owl but the two are now commonly treated as separate species. The upperparts are grey with dark streaks and there are white spots on the scapular (shoulder) feathers. The underparts are whitish with dark streaks. The face is white with a black border and black around the large orange eyes. The head has two short “ear” tufts with black tips. Juvenile birds have a greyish face. The northern white-faced Owl is usually paler and browner with reduced streaking below.

These owls are found in Africa from southern Uganda and southern Kenya south to the Congo, Angola, Namibia and to the northern Cape Province and Natal. Their habitat includes savanna with scattered groups of trees and thorny shrubs, dry open woods, wooded areas along rivers, forest edges and clearings. Southern white-faced scops owl tend avoid dense rainforests and treeless deserts.

Southern white-faced owls feed on large insects, spiders, scorpions, small birds, reptiles and small mammals. This owl hunts from a perch, dropping down and gliding low over the ground before swooping up to a new perch. Prey are normally taken from the ground or from branches, held with the powerful talons and torn apart with the bill.

Nests are in natural holes in tree trunks or thick branches, but nest platforms of larger birds may also be used. Eggs are normally laid between May and November, locally with a dry season peak in July and August. The clutch is generally 2-3 white eggs. The 30 day incubation period starts with the first egg, and is done by the female alone while the male provides the food. The young fledge at four weeks of age and are flying well in a few days. They are cared for by both parents for a further two weeks.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Brown Wood Owl – Strix leptogrammica

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4082″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_border_circle_2″][vc_column_text]The brown wood owl is a resident breeder in south Asia from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka east to western Indonesia and south China. They are perfectly camouflaged to their forest surroundings, with the main body a light chestnut brown barred with dark brown and white. The underparts are buff with dark brown streaks. There is a facial disc, buff in colour and edged with a dark brown border. Both male and female are similar in appearance.

This owl inhabits thick, undisturbed lowland tropical forest, both deciduous & evergreen, in southern Asia. Little is known about this owl in the wild due to it’s very secretive nature. It is strictly nocturnal, spending the daytime perched in dense woodland, often in tall trees. If disturbed, it initially tries to camouflage itself – clinging close to the tree-trunk it looks like a stump of tree, if this fails it flies deeper into the dense woodland. It is a very agile flier within dense woodland. Despite its secretive nature, it is a very vocal bird particularly in moonlight & even more so during the breeding season.

The brown wood owl mainly feeds on small mammals. It will also feed on fruit bats, reptiles, insects and a range of birds, up to the size of a pheasant.

Little is known about the breeding habits of this owl. Breeding usual occurs from January to April, with the female laying 1– 2 eggs, which she will incubate for around 30 days. They nest in hollow trees.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Eurasian Eagle Owl – Bubo bubo

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4083″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_border_circle_2″][vc_column_text]Considered to be one of the largest owls in the world, the Eurasian eagle-owl is an impressive and majestic bird, with distinctive, prominent ear-tufts, a barrel-shaped body, and vivid orange eyes. The plumage is buffy-brown and heavily mottled and streaked with black, with paler underparts and fine barring on the belly and flanks. The wings and tail are marked with dark bars. The throat is white and is used in communication, as a visual signal associated with vocal displays. As with most other birds of prey the female is larger than the male. It is sometimes referred to as the world’s largest owl, although the Blakiston’s fish owl is slightly heavier on average and the much lighter Great Grey owl is slightly longer on average.

This owl usually inhabits natural rocky areas with cliffs and ravines, as well as quarries and buildings, patches of woodland or scattered trees. It also occurs in open forest, wooded steppe, semi-desert, and farmland with suitable rocky areas. The Eurasian eagle-owl and can be found at elevations of up to about 2,000 metres in Europe and 4,500 metres in Central Asia and the Himalayas.

It is mostly a nocturnal predator, predominantly hunting a range of small mammals up to the size of adult hares or even young deer, as well as birds of varying sizes, reptiles, amphibians, fish, large insects and other assorted invertebrates.

The Eurasian eagle-owl usually begins breeding from late winter. The nest is located on a sheltered cliff ledge, in a cave or crevice, in the old nest of another large bird species, or occasionally or on the ground. 1-5 eggs are laid, and are incubated by the female for 34 to 36 days, during which time the male brings food to the nest. The young Eurasian eagle-owls first leave the nest at around five weeks old, but cannot fly until about seven weeks, and remain dependent on the adults for a further three to four months.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Southern Boobook Owl – Ninox boobook

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4084″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_border_circle_2″][vc_column_text]The facial disc is paler then the feathering of the head, and has large dark patches behind each eye, and an indistinct whitish rim. The eyes are pale greenish-yellow to yellow and the bill is bluish-grey. Upperparts are pale to dark brown with irregular pale or white spots on the wings. The scapulars have relatively large whitish areas on the outer webs, forming an indistinct whitish row across the shoulder. The primaries and secondaries are rufous-brown with dark brown bars.

The southern boobook is a species of owl native to mainland Australia, southern New Guinea, Timor and the Sunda Islands. It was considered to be the same species as the morepork of New Zealand until 2013. This bird is the smallest owl on the Australian mainland and is the continent’s most widely distributed and common owl. It is found in a wide range of habitats, from forest and open woodland to scrubland and semi-desert areas.

The Southern Boobook feeds on insects and small mammals such as the house mouse. Feeding takes place mostly at night but some afternoon and morning activity may occur, especially on dull days. Most prey is detected by listening and watching from a suitable tall perch. Once detected, flying prey, such as moths and small bats, are seized in mid-air, while ground-dwelling prey animals are pounced upon.

The breeding season is August and September throughout Australia. The nest can be a wide variety of tree hollows – the tree may be alive or dead with a hole in a limb or the main trunk. The male cleans out the hollow before the eggs are laid – usually 2-3 white and almost round eggs are laid at 1 to 2 day intervals and are incubated for 35 days. The young have white down and fledge within 5 to 6 weeks. They are probably dependent on the parents for 2 to 3 months after this.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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