This spotted eagle owl is an shining example of how animals and birds have had to adapt to mans urbanization and taking away of their natural habitat. With trees and other natural fora been cut down to accommodate the growth of the sprawling metropolis Johannesburg, the owl was forced to leave its natural nesting habitat and find sanctuary in a potted plant on the balcony of Allan and Tracy. On the 21st of August she laid 3 eggs that have now hatched and this is the story of how the pair of Spotted Eagle Owls are raising their chicks.
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Pot Plant Owl – The book.
To order the book by Allan & Tracy Eccles, go to: www.potplantowl.co.za
for within South Africa
or www.nhbs.com for outside South Africa
Please Note: This is a live broadcast of a Spotted Eagle Owl family in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Owls hunt and consume insects, rodents and small birds. These are wild owls living in an urban environment. We try not to interfere with their natural nesting process, and we only intervene in emergencies.
Date Laid Hatch Date Name of Chick
Egg 1 16/08/2010 20/09/2010
Egg 2 approx 20/08/10 21/09/2010
Egg 3 21 or 22/08/2010 24 or 25/09/2010
We built our home, and moved into our house in March 2005. Sitting on our balcony on that first evening, a Spotted Eagle Owl perched on our roof and began hooting. For 3 years the owls were frequently seen on the roof, or perched on the balustrade of the balcony. Then, on the 21st August 2008, we found an egg in the pot plant on the balcony. The Pot (container) stands 800cm tall and we have an indigenous Yellow Wood tree growing in it. The full story is told in our book 'Pot Plant Owl'.
Spotted Eagle Owls normally nest in a scraping on the ground under a rock, a hole in a tree or on top of an old raptor nest. Nesting in a pot (container) on a balcony in an urban area is not the usual nesting site. We've done nothing to encourage the owls to nest with us. We don't feed the owls. During the breeding season, we don't go out onto the balcony except to give the plants water (if our seasonal rains have not started), or to unblock the balcony drains during a storm. Should a chick fall off the balcony, we return it to the nest because until the chick can fly, it's under threat from vehicles, cats and dogs.
These owls mate for life, or until the death of one of them. In this case, the surviving owl will attract a new mate into the territory and introduce it to the nest. The owls should nest with us every year anywhere between the months of August and January. The nesting period itself is about 3 – 4 months – actually longer than a nest closer to the ground. We suspect the height of the nest might have something to do with the extra time with us before the chicks fledge.
We think that the female was born in the geographic location of our house. We do not know what happened to her parents, but when she returned to the site of her birth, she found the territory vacant. She attracted a mate and chose the pot plant as a nest. The owl chicks that are born in a nest on the ground, usually choose a similar nest when it is their time to breed. The chicks born in our pot (container) will probably look for a similar pot (container) to nest in. When the first set of chicks fledged (left) the balcony, they went down to similar pots in our garden. It is for this reason we call the female 'Pot Plant Owl' and it is the name of our book. We refer to the male as Pappa.
Spotted Eagle Owl Facts:
Length: 43 to 47 cm.
Wingspan: 340 cm
Weight: 700 – 950 grams