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Northern white-faced owl

Ptilopsis leucotis

These nocturnal owls are very well known for their ability to "transform" their shape. If faced with a threat; they can elongate their bodies and contract their plumage, making themselves taller and thinner – a little like a branch of a tree.

Interesting fact

Contrary to popular belief, owls cannot turn their heads all the way round. They do, however, have long, flexible necks, which mean the head can be rotated through 270°.

Almost all the way round!

Find out more...


Habitat & threats

Thorn scrub and savannah woodland. The population are considered stable although as with all African bird species, loss of habitat remains a concern. As with the majority of owl species they have very few predators however chicks are preyed upon by snakes.



They prey on insects, birds and rodents (up to small rat size).


Breeding and social dynamics

They live either singly or in pairs. The female will lay a clutch of 2 or 3 eggs in the old stick-nests of many other bird species, including small raptors such as goshawks and kites - or even herons, dove or crow's nests. If these are not available, they will nest in natural tree holes. The 30 day incubation is mainly by the female, although the male may assist. Young chicks will start to fly at roughly 33 days, leaving the nest area two weeks thereafter.



Not available.