Pel's Fishing Owl - Scotopelia peli
Shinde Camp - Okavango Delta, Botswana October 1997
This owl was wild, but would come to the camp after 'fishing' in the nearby water.
The Pel's Fishing-owl (Scotopelia peli) is a large species of owl in the Strigidae family. It feeds nocturnally on fish and frogs snatched from the surface of lakes and rivers. The species prefers slow moving rivers with large overhanging trees to roost and forage from. It nests in hollows and the forks of large trees. Though two eggs are laid, only one chick is raised.
It is found throughout a large part of sub-Saharan Africa, but it is generally rather local, uncommon and absent from drier regions. Adults are rich ginger-rufous with dense dark bars to the upperparts and scaling to the underparts. The two related African fish-owls are smaller and lack the dark barring and scaling (though they do have dark streaks below). Juveniles are more uniform buff than adults. Unlike the eagle-owls, the ear tufts of the Pel's Fishing-owl are barely visible, giving it a very round-headed appearance.