Pearl Spotted Owl

© Shem Compion
Pearl-spotted owl.


Pearl-spotted owl (Glaucidium perlatum)


Pearl-spotted owls are one of Southern Africa’s smallest owls. They are only 18–19 cm and do not have ‘ear’ tufts. They have cinnamon brown heads with off-white facial disks. The upper parts are brown with numerous dusky rimmed white spots. Their underparts are white streaked with brown and their eyes are yellow.

Pearl-spotted Owl Diet

The pearl-spotted owl feed 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 owl only weighs around 85 g.

Pearl-spotted Owl Breeding

Pearl-spotted owls will breed from August to November in South Africa. The female lays 2 - 4 eggs in a tree cavity, often made by woodpeckers or barbets. Both parents possibly incubate the eggs for up to 31 days and the chicks become independent a few weeks later.

Pearl-spotted Owl Behaviour

Like many members of this genus, the pearl-spotted owl is often active during daylight. Its unique whistled call is frequently heard in thorn scrub forest where the species can be quite common. They move about alone or in pairs. The pearl-spotted owl has mock eyes at the back of its head. This will confuse predators as to which way the owl is facing.


The pearl-spotted owl is found in open savannah and semi open woodlands in South Africa. They tend to avoid areas with long grass, desserts and thick forests.

Where they are found

Pearl-spotted owls 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.