Pel’s Fishing Owl (Scotopelia peli)

Pel's Fishing Owl

There are very few birds that bring more excitement when spotted by a birder for the first time than the Pel’s Fishing Owl. You can sense the anticipation as you slowly and quietly approach a possible roosting spot trying your best to not step on any dry leaves or twigs that might alarm the birds while not taking your eyes of the roosting tree in case it takes off. We recently had the fortunate encounter with a wonderful  individual on Impalila Island in the far Eastern Caprivi or Zambezi region of Namibia.

This very large ginger-coloured owl is between 60 and 64cm tall and can weight around 2.4kg with a streaked or spotted breast. Their most striking feature is their huge black eyes that stare down at you with a look of annoyance when you have found them at their day-time roost which is usually in a big, dense tree closer to the water. They are found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa but is patchily distributed as they are only found in Riverine Forest/Woodland around lakes or slow-moving rivers. The Pel’s Fishing Owl is always a highlight and big attraction on our Nature Travel Birding’s Namibia, Botswana and Zambia Birding Safari.

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