January 26, 2023


An Owl in Daylight

The eerie hoo-hoo of an owl is one of the typical sounds of the night. But some owls are also active during the day. Like the Barred Owlet, which is found in the north-east of South Africa.

By Stefanie Rach

Something rustled outside in the branches above the roof of my rondavel. Should I go and see what animal was on the move? I spent a few nights at a camp in the middle of a reserve in north-eastern South Africa. I knew that a leopardess had her territory nearby. So it was not safe to go out at night.

Curiosity won out.

I took my torch and carefully opened the door. Again there was a rustling in the Knobthorn tree. I shone the beam of my torch into the canopy and then along a branch. And there I saw it: a Barred Owlet sitting on the branch and looking down at me. I briefly considered getting my camera. But before I could turn towards the door, the Owlet flew away. Too bad…

The following morning I sat in front of my rondavel to enjoy the sun. Crickets were chirping, birds were twittering and a bush squirrel scampered past and quickly climbed up the next tree. Suddenly a “purr-purr-purr” came from the bushes behind the roundabout. I recognised this call immediately: Barred Owlet.

These little owls are mostly nocturnal, but you can sometimes hear them calling during the day. So I grabbed my camera and made my way through the bushes to look for the owlet. It wasn’t long before I saw it sitting on a low branch. It looked at me with wide eyes, probably wondering if I was friend or foe. In order not to startle it again, I kept my distance and slowly raised the camera. Set the shutter speed, focused – and that’s how this photo was taken.

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GMFER is a registered non-profit in the USA and South Africa. Tax-Identification No. 81-1276522 (USA), 305-272 (South Africa). 

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