Pel's Fishing Owl

Scotopelia peli

Pel's fishing owl (Scotopelia peli) is a large species of owl in the family Strigidae. The species is found in Africa and lives near rivers and lakes. It feeds nocturnally on fish and frogs snatched from the surface of lakes and rivers. The species prefers slow moving rivers with large overhanging trees to roost and forage from. It nests in hollows and the forks of large trees. Though as many as two eggs are laid, often only one chick is raised. Adults are colored a rich ginger-rufous with dense dark bars to the upperparts and scaling to the underparts. The feathers around the head are loose and long, giving the head a shaggy appearance. The tarsi and toes are unfeathered and straw-colored. The white throat is often largely obscured but can be puffed up in displaying birds during courtship. The flight and tail feathers are barred with lighter and darker feathers. The eyes are distinctly dark, often blackish in color. The two adult sexes are similar looking but females are generally less rufous in color and have a more indistinct facial disc. There is considerable variation in coloration and barring in adult birds, with some birds having extensive pale feathers with others having several blackish markings. Juveniles are more uniform buff than adults. Unlike the eagle-owls, the ear tufts of the Pel's fishing owl are barely visible, giving it a very round-headed appearance. The two related fishing owls are smaller and lack the dark barring and scaling (though they do have dark streaks below). The song of the male Pel's fishing owl is a deep, sonorous, horn-like boom, first a single and then a higher pitched huhuhu. The male also utters a ringed hoot, much higher pitched than those of most eagle-owls, followed by a deep, soft grunt: whoommmm-wot or hooomm-hut. The calls of the male are repeated every 10 to 20 seconds and can be heard from up to 3 km (1.9 mi) away. While singing, the male's throat and breast are often highly inflated. The female's songs are similar but are higher pitched and even in a double-note, i.e. hoot-oot. Females and young at the nest wail a shrill wheeoouu while anticipating food.
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Pel's Fishing Owls on Birda


A map showing the sighting location
Bruce Niland
Friday 20 Jan 2023 - 11:39am
South Africa
A map showing the sighting location
Hugo Cura
Thursday 24 Oct 2019 - 4:00pm
A map showing the sighting location
Hannes Pretorius
Friday 17 Aug 2018 - 5:34pm
South Africa
A map showing the sighting location
Niche Wiche
Tuesday 22 Mar 2016 - 5:57am
South Africa
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