Thursday, 3 February 2011

Marsh owl

Asio capensis

(Photo from Território Selvagem)

Common name:
marsh owl (en); coruja-moura (pt); hibou du Cap (fr); búho moro (es); Kap-ohreule (de)

Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

This African species is found throughout much of southern and central Africa, extending from South Africa to Ethiopia, Sudan and Madagascar, with scattered populations in West Africa including Cameroon, Chad, Morocco and Senegal.

These birds are 29-38 cm long and has a wingspan of 82-99 cm. They weigh 225-375 g.

The marsh owl can be found within a multitude of habitats, ranging from estuarine marshes and mangroves, to sub-tropical grasslands, open savannas, inland wetlands and agricultural areas.
They hunt a wide range of animals, including invertebrates like crickets, locusts and grasshoppers, beetles, termites and snails, but also rodents, bats, shrews, birds, lizards, snakes and frogs.

Marsh owls mostly breed in October-April. The nests is a slight depression in the ground, concealed in dense grass and weeds, where the female lays 2-4 eggs. The female incubates the eggs alone for 27-28 days, while the male does all the hunting, storing his prey in caches to be eaten later by either him or the female. The chicks stay in the nest for about 14-18 days, after which they crawl around the surrounding bush for a few weeks, at least until they learn to fly. The fledglings are thought to remain dependent on their parents until they are about 80 days old.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the global population is yet to be quantified, the species is described as common throughout its very large breeding range. With no evidence for any declines or substantial threats, this species is not threatened at present.

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