The pearl-spotted owlet is small (19 cm) and stocky, with a longish tail. The upperparts are rich brown, heavily spotted with white. The underparts are white, streaked with brown. The facial disc is white and the eyes are yellow. There are two eyespots on the nape. Sexes are similar, but young birds are paler with a shorter tail. The flight is deeply undulating.

Habitat and Distribution

The pearl-spotted owlet is a common and easily seen bird in open woodland and savannah.


This species often hunts by day, and can be readily located by the small birds that mob it while it is perched in a tree. It hunts a variety of small prey, including birds.


It nests in a hole in a tree, such as a disused barbet nest, laying 2-4 eggs.

Calls and Songs

The call is a whistled tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu.