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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Meet Africa's Largest Owl

Image wikipedia

The Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, (also known as the Giant or Milky Eagle Owl) is known as the largest African owl, capable of reaching lengths of about 66 to 75 cm in length and achieving a wingspan of up to 2 m. It is also the world's third largest owl (after the Blakiston's Fish Owl and Eurasian Eagle-Owl). Apart from its distinct feather tufts on its ears, it can be distinguished by its deep pink eyelids, orange eyes, a oval disk face with a black border, and its plumage which is dark brown on top and light grey below.

The Verreaux's Eagle-Owl is an extremely powerful hunter, it takes any available prey. Full-grown owls feed on hares, mongoose, guinea fowl and a variety of other small game animals such as reptiles and birds. It is also one of the few species in Africa that can kill and eat hedgehogs.

Breeding takes place from March to September. The female generally lays two eggs in a clutch, however in most cases only one chick survives. Both of the adults are involved in rearing - the females usually do the incubation and most of the feeding while the males hunt and bring food back to the nest. Chicks are ready to leave the nest at approximately 9-10 weeks of age but may remain with parents for up to 3 months. The Verreaux's Eagle-Owls can live into their twenties.

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