Tak­ing ad­van­tage of early dark nights

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mainly a dark, yet warmish brown above with white mark­ings on the wings and finer marks on the head.

Its eyes are dark, with dark cir­cles around them. The un­der­parts are grey­ish white, barred brown. The fin­ish­ing touch to this hand­some crea­ture is the yel­low bill.

It lives in densely wooded val­leys and forests, where it re­mains very well hid­den dur­ing the day­time.

It sim­ply amazes me how such a com­mon bird can re­main so se­cre­tive.

They are so sel­dom en­coun­tered dur­ing the day, but go out at night to the right habi­tat, and you are very likely to en­counter this bird, or at least hear it.

They start their feed­ing and call­ing ac­tiv­ity not long af­ter dusk, when they qui­etly fly around look­ing for prey – small an­i­mals and rep­tiles, or in­sects.

But, it is the call of the African wood owl that is one of the most sooth­ing and pleas­ant sounds of the bush to lis­ten for.

It is a “talk­a­tive” se­ries of hoots, the male’s call be­ing lower in pitch.

Pairs of­ten call in duet, and I have sel­dom en­coun­tered just a sin­gle bird call­ing. The main call is, “WU-hu . . . WU-huhuHU-hu”, an­swered by the same call, or a sin­gle “Whooo”.

You can hear most of these calls in my record­ing at https://www.xeno-canto. org/344199.

ý I am avail­able for lo­cal bird­watch­ing tours. Con­tact 072-314-0069.

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