Do you want to know the different types of owls in Senegal?
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 Senegal!
#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 Senegal 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. African Scops Owl
- Otus senegalensis
- This species has a less defined facial disk, pronounced ear tufts, and yellow eyes.
- The body is grey and brown, with irregular pale white or pink markings that resemble tree bark.
- Adults are 6.7 inches (17 cm) tall with a wingspan of approximately 18 inches (46 cm).
The African Scops Owl lives in wooded areas and forests. They hunt and fly at night and roost during the day in trees. This species has excellent camouflage, especially while sleeping. They perch on branches with their eyes closed and their ear tufts perked, which makes them look like an extension of the tree branch!
This species particularly likes eating insects like beetles, mosquitos, and flies. They hunt by scanning from a tree and swooping down to collect prey on the ground. However, they will hawk for flying insects, meaning they can scoop them right out of the air while in flight!
The African Scops Owl has one of the most unique calls of any owl in Senegal.
It emits a monotonous, unique “prrrp” as a means of communication.
#3. Pearl-spotted Owlet
- Glaucidium perlatum
- The facial disc is brown and white, with yellow eyes and a yellow beak.
- The upper body is brown with white spots and two dark spots outlined in white form false “eyes” on the back of its head.
- Adults are 6.6 to 8.3 inches (17 to 21 cm) long with a wing length of 4 to 4.7 inches (10-12 cm).
The tiny Pearl-spotted Owlet is the smallest owl in Senegal.
Even the fully-grown adults are called owlets because of how little they are!
This species is active throughout the day and at night but prefers to hunt in the dark. During the day, the Pearl-spotted Owlet roosts in small bushes and often bathes in open water. You’re likely to see one splashing around in a lake, stream, or large pond.
The Pearl-spotted Owlet usually hunts grasshoppers and crickets. However, they also hunt lizards, small rodents, bats, snakes, or other small birds if those prey species are available.
They give a loud series of short shrills that start slow and then accelerate in tempo and pitch. Towards the end of the shrill, the tempo and the pitch lower again, with the last two shrills being longer. When distressed, Pearl-spotted Owlets alert their mates through soft whistles and peeps.
#4. 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.
#5. Northern White-faced Owl
- Ptilopsis leucotis
- The well-defined facial disk is white with a bold black rim around it. It has orange eyes and a yellowish bill. Feathers grow over the bill, giving this owl a peculiar mustache. The ear tufts are large, long, and tipped in black.
- This species is pale grey with bold white and black streaks.
- Adults are 9.4 to 9.8 inches (24 to 25 cm) long with a wing span of 6.6″ to 7.8″ (17 to 20 cm).
The Northern White-faced Owl can be found in tree trunks or rich tree foliage, where it roosts during the day. It prefers to stay in dry savannas with thorny trees, dry open forests, and woodlands.
This species is nocturnal and hunts primarily during the middle of the night, avoiding dawn and dusk hours as well as the daytime. They hunt from a perch, swooping down on their prey, which they typically swallow whole.
Northern White-faced Owl’s main defense mechanism is fascinating. When they sense a threat, these owls puff out their feathers and wings to appear over twice their actual size. However, if the predator is much larger than itself, it will pull its feathers in to appear even smaller.
#6. Greyish Eagle Owl
- Bubo cinerascens
- This species’ facial disk is a medium brown with a dark outline. Its eyes are dark brown, and its beak is gray.
- The coloring is brown mottled with cream on the back and wings, and the underside is white to pale cream.
- Adults are about 17 inches (43 cm) long with a wingspan of 11 to 13 inches (28 to 33 cm).
The Greyish Eagle Owl is found in Senegal in open savannahs and dry, rocky deserts. They roost during the day in rocky outcrops, bushes, tree foliage, or in deserted manufactured structures like outbuildings and barns.
Its diet consists of large insects and spiders. The Greyish Eagle hunts at night from a perch, where it sits, and waits for prey to get closer. Occasionally, this species will also “hawk” flying insects directly from the air while gliding!
Do you need more help identifying an owl you saw in Senegal?
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 Senegal:
Which of these owls have you seen before in Senegal?
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