Do you want to know the different types of owls in Morocco?
If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the owls you can expect to see. For each species, you will find out how to identify each owl correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!
The temptation to intersperse this entire article with puns is almost overwhelming. I could just wing it and beak-off about these birds all day long, but I really do give a hoot, and soon you would be talon me to stop it. Ok, settle down because that is owl you get. 🙂
Keep reading to learn about 6 Types of owls found in Morocco!
#1. Barn Owl
- Tyto alba
- They have a heart-shaped, white facial disk with a tawny brown outline. Their eyes are black.
- The head, back, and tail are yellowish-brown with some white or ashy grey spots, and the underparts are white.
- Adults are 17.3 inches (44 cm) tall, with a wingspan of 9 to 12.6 inches (23 to 32 cm).
Although Barn Owns typically roost in hollow trees, they’re often found in caves, wells, and even secluded buildings. They’re nocturnal, so anywhere that provides a dark, quiet space for this species to rest is a likely spot for a roost.
Barn Owls eat small rodents, insects, baby rabbits, small birds, frogs, lizards, and bats. They fly low over the ground, searching out prey with their excellent night vision, and quietly grab their meal from the ground.
Interestingly, wild Barn Owls in Morocco have a fairly short life span of around two years. But, when kept in captivity, this species can live up to 20 years. Although most animals live longer in captivity due to protection from predators and steady feeding, the Barn Owl takes it to a new level!
While this species is most active at night, they occasionally hunt just after sunrise or before sunset. Instead of trying to find one by sight, listen for its noises which can be varied and distinctive. They communicate with drawn-out screeches, distinct repetitive twittering, or low croaks. The Barn owl can also hiss or rasp when surprised.
#2. Marsh Owl
- Asio capensis
- This species has a pumpkin-shaped facial disk with a brown rim, brown eyes, and nearly absent ear tufts.
- The coloring on the wings is dark brown, barred with cream or white, and tawny on the chest and belly.
- Adults are 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm) long with a wingspan of 11 to 15 inches (28 to 38 cm).
True to its name, the Marsh Owl lives primarily in marshlands. However, it can also be found in open grassland and short scrub. They abandon their nests and move to wetter areas if their habitat gets very dry.
Marsh Owls nest on the ground at the end of the rainy season. They’re monogamous and mate for life. Even though they can be somewhat territorial, it’s not unusual for nesting individuals to live in bigger colonies, close to each other.
Even though Marsh Owls are primarily nocturnal, they can also be seen at dusk and dawn. Look for them while they hunt, either alone or in pairs. Their diet consists of small rodents, insects, and reptiles which they find by flying low over the grass.
#3. Pharaoh Eagle-Owl
- Bubo ascalaphus
- This species has a facial with a dark outline, a robust black beak, small ear tufts, and orange-yellow eyes.
- Their coloring is spotted with dark brown, yellow-orange, and pale brown with less common creamy white spots.
- Adults grow to between 18 and 20 inches (46 to 51 cm) long with a wingspan of 12.8 to 16.75 inches (33 to 43 cm).
The Pharaoh Eagle Owl is primarily found in big, open spaces with rocky outcrops. They build their nests out of grasses and other plant materials in grooves in the rock.
Your best chance to see a Pharaoh Eagle-owl is around dusk as it starts its hunt for food. They catch small mammals, birds, snakes, reptiles, and occasionally insects. To find their prey, they perch on a high rock or branch, listening and looking for any movement on the ground.
Listen for a low-pitched call that sounds like “hoo-ahh” repeated every four to five seconds. They use their calls for courtship, as well as to advertise their territory.
#4. Little Owl
- Athene noctua
- The flattened head is defined by “eyebrows” that make this species appear angry. They have bright yellow eyes and beaks.
- Their coloring above is brown mottled with cream, with pale underparts.
- Adults are about 8 inches (20 cm) long with a wingspan of approximately 22 inches (56 cm).
The Little Owl is a small owl native to warm regions of Morocco. They have a wide range of habitats, including forests, semi-deserts, and dunes. They can also live near humans and roost in barns, parks, and hedges.
Unlike most owls in Morocco, this species is active during the day, so you have a good chance of spotting one.
It hunts by perching on trees and looking for movement on the ground. Once they spot something, they swoop down on it and grab it in their talons. You may also see a Little Owl taking prey to a hollow tree because this species often caches food for later.
The Little Owl mostly communicates through an evenly pitched, short call that sounds a little like a cat. However, they also use various forms of whistling when communicating. They recognize other individuals by their voices, which is handy during territorial disputes. Neighboring Little Owls will call in greeting to avoid a fight!
#5. Long-eared Owl
- Asio otus
- The facial disk is tawny on the sides, with a black and white column between the eyes and over the beak. They have very large ear tufts and bright yellow eyes.
- The coloring is a mix of grays and browns with black and white vertical streaks or spots.
- Adults are 12 to 16 inches (30 to 41 cm) tall with a wingspan of up to 3.25 feet (99 cm).
The most notable characteristic of Long-eared Owls in northeastern Morocco is their large, upright ear tufts. In addition, the ears are asymmetrical, with one ear higher on the head and the other lower. This serves the purpose of hearing sounds above and below the bird’s position.
Long-eared Owls live in open landscapes, forests or taigas, swampy areas, and even cemeteries, gardens, or open spaces in villages and towns. So, it’s not unusual to see them hunting in populated areas at night.
This species divides their hunting into phases, starting their hunt before midnight, taking a break, and then hunting again just before dawn. They fly slowly and listen to their prey moving along the ground. Long-eared Owls depend on their hearing more than their sight during hunting.
The song of the male Long-eared Owl is a deep whoop, repeated every few seconds, slowly increasing in pitch. Females communicate as a reply to males during the breeding season, hooting back at a lower volume. Both sexes can also utter cat-like sounds.
#6. Maghreb Owl
- Strix mauritanica
- This species has a defined facial disk, a round head, and no ear tufts. Its eyes are deep black, and its beak is pale yellow.
- The Maghreb owls are medium-sized birds with gray and brown plumage
- Adults are 15 inches (38 cm) long with a wingspan of 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm).
Maghreb Owls are an earless owl species found in forests and rocky areas. They don’t have a preference for a specific elevation and can be found from sea level to high mountain ranges.
The Maghreb owl is nearly impossible to find in the wild. It’s strictly nocturnal and extremely wary of humans. During the day, Maghreb Owls roost hidden in deep tree foliage, moving into open areas to hunt during the night. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles.
The sound that the Maghreb owls make is a quavering hoot “kee-wik” during the night.
Do you need more help identifying an owl you saw in Morocco?
If so, check out this field guide, which is full of great information!
And be sure to check out these other articles about animals in Morocco:
Which of these owls have you seen before in Morocco?
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