The pearl-spotted owlet feeds on a variety of prey, like insects, bats and small rodents. Although they mainly feed on invertebrates the powerful talons allow it to catch birds up to the size of large weavers, small mammals and reptiles. They have been recorded to take laughing dove weighing 200 g. This is an achievement considering the owlet only weighs around 85 g.
While most owls are typically nocturnal, hunting under the cover of darkness, some owls use the daylight hours to avoid competition with and predation by their larger counterparts. The pearl-spotted owlet is typically crepuscular, meaning that it is active early morning and late afternoon. Because it hunts during the daylight hours, it does not rely as heavily on the use of hearing to locate prey. The pearl-spotted owlet uses startle displays to ward off its enemies. It has two eye-spots on the back of its head, that mimic real eyes, and a predator would be hard pressed to know for sure which way the owlet is really looking. This technique is used to dissuade attackers, as predators generally won’t pursue prey from the front, as they then lose the element of surprise critical for effective hunting. By Megan Emmett
Pearl-spotted owlets are widely spread in Southern Africa. They are mainly found in bushveld and woodland areas where they are commonly seen all year round. They are probably the most diurnal of the Southern African owls.