Spot the difference

Pierre Hofmeyr, Somerset West

Regarding the excellent picture of an owl on your front page (“Eagle eyes”, Bolander July 26), pictured right, I would like to point out that it is definitely a Spotted Eagle-Owl, and not a Cape Eagle-Owl as is speculated in the caption.

Firstly, Cape Eagle-Owls all have orange eyes whereas Spotted Eagle-Owls mostly have yellow eyes, although occasional individuals have orange eyes which can cause confusion with the Cape Eagle-Owl.

This bird clearly has yellow eyes, making it a Spotted Eagle-Owl.

Secondly, Cape Eagle-Owls have heavily blotched and boldly barred under-parts, whereas Spotteds have finely barred flanks.

The bird in the photo clearly has finely barred flanks, confirming it as a Spotted Eagle-Owl.

Lastly, the Cape Eagle-Owl is a resident of rocky and mountainous terrain virtually always far from human habitation, whereas the Spotted Eagle-Owl is commonly found in wooded, suburban gardens.

Happily the two note call of the male followed, by the three note call of the female, is still commonly heard in the evenings in the more wooded suburban areas of the Helderberg.

For the interest of your readers and to show the distinguishing features, I attach a photo of the Cape Eagle-Owl I took near Grahamstown.

Thank you! Ed