African Spotted Eagle Owl - Bubo africanus - 'Dela' and 'Sephooko'
Dela is one of our more mature ladies at the Centre, and brought in as an adult has been with us for more than twenty years. She is the epitome of a gentle owl, very calm and placid - all our visitors adore her. When flown outside she spends a lot of her time running along the ground - she has learnt that this is the best way to get her food, and entertains the visitors whilst doing so, thereby expending very little energy, and gaining huge reward!! She is a real character. Deal is currently a Client Bird flying in the Owl Experiences in the mornings. Every bird has their own strict time for flying and their own routines, as we do! Dela joined us in 1995 at the tender age of 2! That makes her currently 26 years of age (2019).
Sephoo is a little less sure of himself, flying cautiously. He joined our collection in 2015 as a juvenile, and is now maturing well into a steady flyer. He is used almost daily , and presents some most dramatic flights on a good day! He joins out Afternoon Flying Display flying long and low, from table to perch, and on the ground. He teaches us all a great deal about how tough life could be out in the wild savannahs of Africa, where they hide in the acacia trees, and rush out to catch insects, scorpions and small creatures,returning to the safety and shelter of the favourite tree!
African spotted owls are found north and south of the Equator in Africa, in dry scrub savannah and woodland habitats. They are strictly nocturnal, resting by day in rocky areas, acacia bushes and outcrops. They catch their prey with a post and long, low, glide approach, or chasing insects, geckos and lizards by running on the ground, often spending hours at a time doing so, or hawking insects from the air under streetlights.
These owls are very gentle birds in captivity, rarely showing aggression, even at the nest site, but puff out their feathers and wings into a huge ball, and scare predators away with their loud hissing call, and beak clicking. The lack of aggression is probably due to the fact that they have few predators in Africa, and catching lizards, geckos and insects requires no aggression!
They nest in the wild in a ground scrape usually, in a cave or at the foot of a tree. They will lay 3-5 eggs, which hatch successively after 32 days. The young owls are fledged by 7 weeks, but remain with their parents until 3 months of age, then leave to fend for themselves on the African plains. When Dela is in breeding condition she sits in the back corner of her aviary and is really difficult to see! Camouflage is an amazing thing!
Both these owls are amazingly professional at their job!