Small owls
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African Scops-Owl L: 17 cm (6·5") This tiny, compact, camouflaged greybrown owl has small ear tufts that form slightly rounded corners to the top of the head . It is a common resident throughout Kruger in a variety of woodlands . Most camps have a pair or two, which are most easily found either by speaking to camp staff who know the whereabouts of roosting birds, or by following their croaking or purring frog-like “prreeeuup” calls at night (occasionally also heard during the day) . The calls are repeated every 5–8 seconds, sometimes for long periods . This owl’s choice of natural cavities as nest sites often brings it into direct competition with hornbills, sometimes leading to the owls being killed . Small owls 210 Pearl-spotted Owlet L: 19 cm (7·5") This small, rounded, brown-and-white owl is often active during the day . It has white speckles over its back and tail, and diagnostic white spots (not bars) on the fore-crown and head . White-ringed black markings on the back of the head give the impression of false eyes . The similar but rarer African Barred Owlet (not illustrated) is larger, has bars (not spots) on the head, and lacks ‘false eyes’ . The Pearl-spotted Owlet is a common resident in wooded savannah throughout Kruger, including many camps . It gives an accelerating series of high-pitched, upslurred, piping “fwooo” notes followed by a set of downslurred “puuueeeww” whistles, and can often be heard and seen by day, when it may attract a mob of small birds that will antagonise it until it flies away on whirring wings with an undulating flight like a woodpecker . This owl is a hole-nester that prefers abandoned barbet and woodpecker holes and, like the African Scops-Owl, competes with starlings, rollers, hoopoes and hornbills for nesting cavities . NIGHT BIRDS 211 ...