Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

African Barred Owlet (Glaucidium capense)


French: Chevêchette du Cap German: Kapzwergkauz Spanish: Mochuelo de El Cabo
Other common names: Etchecopar Owlet (etchecopari), Scheffler's Owlet, Eastern Barred Owlet (scheffleri), Ngami Owlet (ngamiense)

Noctua Capensis

A. Smith

, 1834,

17 km west of Bathurst, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa


This and some other Old World owlet species placed in genus Taenioglaux by some recent authors#R#R. Thought to be most closely related to G. castaneum and G. albertinum, one or both of which have been considered conspecific with present species by some authors; W African etchecopari has been included in G. castaneum (e.g. in HBW). Race etchecopari treated as full species in second edition of recent monograph#R on basis of allopatry and “different vocalisations”, but latter statement contradicted by original description, where voice said to be identical to capense and this supported by independent evidence#R. Recent studies have indicated that ngamiense (including intergrade forms “clanceyi” and “robertsi”) and scheffleri should both be regarded as distinct species, on basis of morphology, geographical distribution, habitat preferences and slight vocal differences, but much more research needed. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. c. etchecopari Érard & Roux, 1983 – patchily in Liberia and Ivory Coast; recently documented in Ghana#R#R, Togo#R and Benin#R.
  • G. c. scheffleri Neumann, 1911 – extreme S Somalia and E Kenya to NE Tanzania.
  • G. c. ngamiense (Roberts, 1932) – C Tanzania and SE DRCongo across to S Angola, S to N Namibia, C Botswana, NE South Africa (E Limpopo, E Mpumalanga) and SC Mozambique; also Mafia I (off CE Tanzania).
  • G. c. capense (A. Smith, 1834) – S Mozambique S to Eastern Cape.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–22 cm; male 81–132 g, female 93–139 g (ngamiense); male 83–100 g, female 93–113 g (scheffleri); wingspan c. 45 cm. Small... read more


    Nominate race gives 5–8 notes (or more) at 1 per second, rising in pitch and falling slightly... read more


    Contiguous woodland, riparian forest and edge habitat in open country, usually below 1200... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects such as beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars; small mammals and birds. Most details recorded for ngamiense: mainly... read more


    Little information. Lays Sept–Nov in E & S Africa. Only a few nests have been found, none studied in detail, and much of biology... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Nominate race very rare in E Cape, where first specimen collected in 1824, with another in 1826; speculation that locality... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L. & Marks, J.S. (2019). African Barred Owlet (Glaucidium capense). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).