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Species Guide
A photo of a African Barred Owlet (Glaucidium capense)
African Barred Owlet

African Barred Owlet

Glaucidium capense

The African barred owlet, a diminutive and charming bird of prey, exhibits a greyish-brown plumage adorned with fine buff bars. A distinctive narrow white eyebrow graces its face, while a white stripe, created by the white outer webs with dark brown tips of the scapulars and greater wing coverts, elegantly crosses the shoulder and folded wing. The chest, finely barred with buff, transitions to a breast and flanks of white with tasteful brown spots. The underwing coverts, legs, and vent are a pristine white, contrasting with the brown barred with rufous flight feathers and tail. The bill and cere present a dull greenish-yellow hue, and the eyes, legs, and feet are a striking yellow. This owlet's stature is modest, measuring approximately 17 cm in length with a wingspan of about 40 cm.

Identification Tips

When observing this species, look for the narrow white eyebrow and the white shoulder stripe, which are key identification markers. The yellow eyes, legs, and feet are also distinctive features that can aid in identification.


The African barred owlet favors open environments that are rich in arboreal elements, such as gallery forests, woodlands, forest edges, and areas of secondary growth.


This species is endemic to Southern and Eastern Africa, with its range extending from Kenya and the Eastern Cape to Western Angola.


The African barred owlet is known for its partly diurnal nature, often seen perched openly during daylight hours, vigilantly scanning for prey. At dusk and dawn, and on calm, clear nights, it vocalizes with a series of single-pitched purring notes. When detected by diurnal birds, it may become the target of mobbing. It typically roosts within the shelter of tree cavities.

Song & Calls

The African barred owlet communicates with a series of single-pitched purring notes, particularly during the twilight hours and throughout the night when the weather is calm and clear.


Both sexes call to establish their territory, with vocal activity peaking before the breeding season. Nesting typically occurs in tree cavities 3–6 meters above ground. The breeding season sees the laying of two or three eggs from September to November. Both parents are involved in feeding the young, but only under the cover of darkness. The fledglings leave the nest after 30–33 days and gain independence after 7–12 months.

Similar Species

While there are no similar species mentioned, it is important to note that the African barred owlet is part of a complex that may consist of up to four separate species, currently recognized as subspecies.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the African barred owlet is diverse, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, insects, scorpions, and caterpillars. Prey is typically captured following a short flight from a perch.

Conservation status

The African barred owlet is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it currently faces no significant threats to its population.

African Barred Owlet Sounds

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African Barred Owlets on Birda


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