‘On watch – southern white-faced owl’
Charcoal Engraving on board
38 X 60 cm
The Southern white-faced owl is a gorgeous little African owl easily recognized by its striking white facial disc, with a border of black plumage. These owls have prominent ‘ear’-tufts and are on average 25cms in height. The facial discs act as ‘satellite dishes’, amplifying and channelling the slightest sound directly to their ears. They hunt mainly by standing quite still, dropping silently onto their victims down on the ground. Their prey can be rodents, insects, small reptiles and even little birds.
These nocturnal owls are well known for their ability to “transform” their shape. When alarmed they elongate their bodies and contract their plumage, making themselves taller, thinner and more stick-like. They may even lean slightly to further appear as a branch. At the same time, they narrow their very bright eyes into slits, making their faces less visible.
Southern White-Faced Owls are found in much of Africa’s wooded areas below the equator. By day they roost high up in trees, their colouration and stillness making them very difficult to spot. At night their soft, bubbling hoots often give away their position.