Maned owl (Jubula lettii)

French: Duc à crinière
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderStrigiformes
FamilyStrigidae
GenusJubula (1)
SizeLength: 30 - 44 cm (2)
Weightc. 183 g (3)

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).

This highly distinctive owl gets its name from the long, bushy ear-tufts that give it a maned look (2). These brown-and-white tufts merge with the prominent whitish ‘eyebrows’ on the forehead, which contrast with the facial disc, characteristic of owls, that is reddish and edged in brown. The maned owl is a medium-sized owl, with chestnut-brown to rufous upperparts, patterned with variable marks and barring (2) (3). The underparts are light rufous on the breast, fading to buff or whitish on the belly, with dusky brown streaks. The eyes of the maned owl are rich yellow, and the bill and legs are pale yellow. Male and female maned owls vary only slightly in appearance, with females generally being darker and more heavily patterned (3).

Occurs in Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, south Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, north Gabon, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1) (3).

The maned owl inhabits lowland rainforest, especially in areas with abundant creepers, close to rivers and lakes. It has never been recorded outside forests or forest clearings and so appears to be very dependent on this habitat (2) (3).

This nocturnal bird emerges at dusk from its roosting site amongst creepers to hunt from open perches (2) (3). The maned owl’s diet is not well known, but insects such as grasshoppers and beetles may be the most important prey items, although green vegetable matter has been found in the stomach of a young owl. The small weak feet and bill suggest that the maned owl is incapable of capturing larger vertebrate prey (3), as many other owls do.

Like the diet, information regarding reproduction in the maned owl is also scant. Observations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo suggest that it lays three or four eggs between March and May, in a tree cavity or an old stick nest (2) (3). Fledglings have been seen in late December and January in Cameroon and Gabon, and a pair of maned owls with full-grown young were recorded in Liberia in the third week of February (3).

The scarcity of information on the maned owl’s biology, in combination with its secretive and nocturnal habits, make it difficult to assess how threatened this species may be (3), hence why the IUCN have classified it as Data Deficient (1). It is reported to be scarce in Ghana and rare in Liberia, although this may be due to it being overlooked, and there are also only a few records of its occurrence in Cameroon. Its dependency on forest habitat likely places it at risk from habitat loss as a result of timber harvesting (3) (5).

Further research on this little known species is clearly required. Gathering information on its exact range, population sizes, and dependency on forests would help determine its status and inform conservation actions if necessary (2) (5).

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Duncan, J.R. (2003) Owls of the World: Their Lives, Behavior and Survival. Key Porter Books, Toronto, Canada.
  3. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1999) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 5: Barn-Owls to Hummingbirds. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  4. CITES (December, 2007)
    http://www.cites.org
  5. BirdLife International (March, 2008)
    http://www.birdlife.org/regional/caribbean/factsheet.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=2255&m=0