Some time in this job we get to work long hours! Last night locking up with the wind making noise and hearing the owls chatting I walked home with eyes wide open. What I did not expect to see is this very large OWL – and after much research this morning found it to be the African Grass Owl staring at me from the top Grass section of our house.
We have a spot light up there shining on our fence but it also lights up the big grass patch too. This African Grass Owl stood there staring at me! He/she did not move a muscle just stared as me while I stared at it.
I have been hearing the owls calling for a couple of weeks now and how exciting to have them here at Chestnut Country Lodge! I am going to be more focused on spotting them now that I have witnessed the 1 owl. I do hope I get to see the other! I know there are 2 of them as they call each other in the evenings and it is always a delight to hear. Sometimes I just want to call out and see if they respond.
We are the perfect property for these African Grass Owls, as there is so much grass around so for nesting it will be the perfect area. I am just hoping that they will stay.
Here is a little info on them complements of www.owlpages.com
Description: The facial disc is whitish-cream, with a thin yellowish-buff rim that is densely spotted dark. Eyes are brownish-black, and the bill is whitish to pale pink.
The entire upperparts from the crown to the lower back and wing-coverts is uniform sooty blackish-brown, with scattered small white spots and greyish flecks. Primaries and secondaries are pale brownish-grey with darker bars and yellowish bases. The tail is short, with the central feathers uniform brown, and outer feathers becoming paler (almost white) towards the edges, and showing about 4 dark bars. Underparts are whitish to creamy-brownish with dark spots. Legs are feathered whitish to the lower third of the tarsi. The remainder of the tarsi and the toes are slightly bristled and coloured pale yellowish-grey. Claws are dark greyish-brown to blackish
Size: Length 38-42cm. Wing length 283-345mm. Weight 355-520g. (It looked like a Giant last night! Lol)
Habits: The African Grass Owl is a nocturnal bird, rarely seen flying in the daytime. Roosts during the day on the ground in tall, often tangled grass. Domed platforms and tunnels are created by trampling down the surrounding grass. Tunnels can be several metres long and connect with other tunnels. A domed platform at the end of a tunnel serves as the nest or daytime roost. Paired owls often roost together and sometimes small parties may have roosts quite close to one another.
This owl becomes active after sunset and hunts at night. If food is scarce, they may be seen flying in the early morning or late afternoon.
Voice: A screeching call similar to the Common Barn Owl, but less strident. A high-pitched sibilant tremolo of 1-2 seconds is thought to be the song of the male.
Hunting & Food: The African Grass Owl prefers rodents and other small mammals up to about 100g, taken from the ground. They may also catch bats, large insects and small birds in the air as well as on the ground. Normally hunts in a wavering flight low over the ground, listening and watching for prey, but will also hunt from a perch.
Breeding: Breeds from December to August, but mainly February to April. The nest is a shallow hollow lined with grass at the end of a grass tunnel. 2-4 white eggs are laid, averaging 41.1 x 32.7mm, normally at 2 day intervals. The female incubates the eggs alone, while the male supplies the food. Incubation starts with the first egg and lasts 32-42 days. The young are fed by the brooding female using food brought by the male for about 10 days; thereafter, both parents feed the chicks. When the nestlings are about 4 weeks old, the female no longer roosts at the nest. At 5 weeks the young begin to wander around the nest, and then at 7 weeks they make their first attempts at flying. After leaving the nest, the young remain with the parents for about 3 weeks, before becoming independent.
So for any of you bird lovers come on down and enjoy our winter special and see if you too can witness this beautiful Owl!
This article was written by africa360