The upperparts are grey with dark streaks and there are white spots on the scapular feathers. The underparts are whitish with dark streaks. The face is white with a black border and black around the large orange eyes. The head has two short `ear` tufts with black tips. Juvenile birds have a greyish face. The Northern White-faced Owl is usually paler and browner with reduced streaking below. It is 22?28 centimetres (8.7?11.0 in) long and weighs 185?220 grams (6.5?7.8 oz).

Habitat and Distribution

Its range extends from Gabon eastwards to southern Kenya and southwards to Namibia and northern South Africa. It inhabits savanna and dry woodland. It is usually seen alone or in pairs.


It hunts for large invertebrates and some small mammals, birds and reptiles are also taken.


The eggs are usually laid in the old nest of another bird. The clutch contains two or three eggs which are incubated for about 30 days. The young birds leave the nest about a month after hatching.

Calls and Songs

The call is a series of fast, bubbling hoots. It is uttered at night and frequently repeated. The northern white-faced owl has a very different two-note call.