8 Species of Owls Found in the Congo! (2022)

Do you want to know the different types of owls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Types of owls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

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 8 Types of owls found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo!

 


#1. Barn Owl

  • Tyto alba

Common Democratic Republic of Congo owls

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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

Common owls found in Democratic Republic of Congo

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It emits a monotonous, unique “prrrp” as a means of communication.

 


#3. Southern White-faced Owl

  • Ptilopsis granti

Owls of Democratic Republic of Congo

Identifying Characteristics:

  • They have a white facial disk with a black outline, small black ear tufts, and bright orange eyes.
  • The upper parts of its body are grey or brown with white spots, and the underparts are mostly white with some darker streaks.
  • Adults are 8 to 11 inches (20 to 28 cm) tall with a wingspan of 7.5 to 8.11 inches (19 to 21 cm).

 

Southern White-faced Owls prefer to live in dry woods and grasslands, where they hunt for large insects, reptiles, and small mammals.

 

This is one of the only owls in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that does not make its own nest. Instead, it uses other birds’ empty, deserted nests to nest and breed. Larger owls and other birds of prey that abandon their nests are likely making room for Southern White-faced Owls to move in!

 

Listen for the Southern White-faced Owl’s call, which is a sequence of quick, trilling hoots. It calls at night and is repeated several times. During the breeding season, it’s common for breeding pairs to sing together, frequently with quick, staccato notes followed by a longer, higher-pitched “hoot.”

 

Interestingly, this owl doesn’t migrate to avoid cold weather. Instead, when the weather cools, they increase their resting metabolism by around 45%, which helps them maintain body temperature and adjust to the cold climate.

 


#4. Spotted Eagle Owl

  • Bubo africanus

Types of owls in Democratic Republic of Congo

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Yellow eyes and big ear tufts accent the pale brown facial disk.
  • Their coloring is dark brown on the upper body with white and brown underparts.
  • Adults are about 18 inches (46 cm) long with a wingspan of 39 to 55 inches (99 to 140 cm).

 

Look for Spotted Eagle Owls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in rocky regions, bushy grasslands, or tree crowns. They’re also very common in urban areas close to human populations.

 

This species eats a wide variety of prey, including birds, insects, small mammals, rodents, and reptiles. If the prey is small enough, the Spotted Eagle Owl will swallow it whole. If not, it tears it into pieces. During nesting periods, male Spotted Eagle Owls become so devoted to the offspring that they bring nearly all their prey back to the nest. They have been known to starve in their effort to provide enough food!

 

Spotted Eagle Owls call to one another with hooting noises. Usually, the male hoots twice, while the female hoots three times. Adults and juveniles will hiss and snap their beaks under duress. Owlets can make rasping noises when hungry, and the parents can recognize the rasping of their own hatchlings.

 


#5. Verreaux’s Eagle Owl

  • Bubo lacteus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The facial disk is light grey with strong black borders. They have small ear tufts and brown eyes with unusual, pale pink eyelids.
  • Mainly gray, with some brown parts on the underside. Their back is brown with white spots on the shoulders.
  • Adults grow up to 26 inches (66 cm) in length with a wingspan of 4 feet 7 inches (up to 140 cm).

 

The Verreaux’s Eagle Owl is one of only a few owls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with no natural predators!

They hunt small mammals like hedgehogs, rodents, insects, birds, and reptiles.

 

Because of its nocturnal habits, it can be hard to spot a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl. They roost in mature trees with large branches and dense foliage. In addition, they have excellent camouflage. Their feathers are barred in a way that makes them appear blurry, and they blend in effortlessly with the leaves.

 

Members of this species form tight-knit social circles of two parents and their offspring. They are quite territorial and often fight other individuals of the species for territory. Despite these close family ties, one of the hatchlings is often ignored in favor of the older, larger young, and often the smaller chick dies of starvation.

 


#6. African Wood Owl

  • Strix woodfordii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • This species has a rounded head, dark eyes, and white eyebrows. The facial disc is white with a dark brown outline. The beak is yellow.
  • The coloring is light brown above, and the underparts are white with brown spots.
  • Adults are 12 to 13.8 inches (30 to 35 cm) long with a wingspan of 8.6 to 10.6 inches (22 to 27 cm).

 

African Wood Owls, also called Woodford’s owls, live in forests and woodland areas. They’re nocturnal, and they roost in pairs in the dense foliage of trees. However, because of its nighttime activity and camouflage, you’d have a hard time finding one of these medium-sized owls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Their mating period is from July to October, and the female lays 1 to 3 eggs in a hollow tree. The incubation starts as soon as the first egg is laid, so the oldest, biggest hatchling sometimes kills the younger siblings if there is a food shortage. Hatchlings sometimes stay in the nest with their parents until the next breeding season.

 

Interestingly, African Wood Owls sing duets between males and females, usually in breeding pairs. The male calls with clear, fast hoots, and the female responds in a higher pitch but with a more relaxed, slower call.

 


#7. Northern White-faced Owl

  • Ptilopsis leucotis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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.

 


#8. Greyish Eagle Owl

  • Bubo cinerascens

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 the north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

 

If so, check out this field guide, which is full of great information!

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And be sure to check out these other articles about animals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

 


Which of these owls have you seen before in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

 

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