Little Chaco Owl with beautiful eyes.
he Chaco Owl is found in South America in the Gran Chaco region of Argentina & Paraguay. The area is sparsely populated, dry, semi-arid with thorny shrubs, cacti & small groups of trees.
They prey mainly on small birds, mammals & other vertebrates, but will also feed on insects, spiders & scorpions. They are predominantly nocturnal hunters starting from dusk. Daytimes they roost mainly in dense bushes or trees, sometimes on the ground.
Nests are usually made in holes in trees but sometimes on the ground under bushes or fallen branches. Breeding takes place in May, when usually 2 eggs are laid. Incubation is done by the female with the male providing food.
Until recently the Chaco Owl was thought to be a sub-species of the Rufous-legged Owl (Strix rufipes), which is found on the Western coast of South America from Central Chile down through to the Southern most tip of Argentina. Recent studies have proved the two species to be distinct, and the Chaco Owl was classified as a separate species in 2005. The areas inhabited by the two species do not overlap, being separated by the Andes, the Rufous-legged Owl has a more brown-tinged facial disc & they have different vocalisations. The study also showed that the Chaco Owl is more closely related to the Rusty-barred Owl (Strix hylophila), found to the north-east of the Chaco Owls region (i.e. Southern Brazil, Paraguay & North-East Argentina), than it is to the Rufous-legged Owl.