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Pel's fishing owl

Scotopelia peli

Photo by Dana Allen (Discover Wildlife)

Common name:
Pel’s fishing owl (en); corujão-pesqueiro-de-Pel (pt); chouette-pêcheuse de Pel (fr); cárabo pescador común (es); bindenfischeule (de)

Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

This species is patchily distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ghana and Nigeria, eastwards to Sudan and Eritrea and south to northern Angola, Botswana and north-eastern South Africa, mainly around major river systems.

These birds are 51-63 cm long and have a wingspan of 145-155 cm. They weigh 2-2,3 kg.

The Pel’s fishing owl is found in rainforest and swamp forests along rivers, stream, lakes and marshes, also using estuaries. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.700 m.

They mostly hunt fish up to 2 kg, namely catfishes, tilapias, pikes and squeakers, but also take frogs, crabs, freshwater mussels and even young crocodiles.

Pel’s fishing owls breed in January-July. They are monogamous and nest in natural hollows in trees located near water. The female lays 2 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 32-38 days. Usually only 1 chick survives. It is fed by both parents and fledges 68-70 days after hatching. The young will stay with their parents for up to 9 months and become sexually ature at 2 years of age.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be common in most of its range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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