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The northern white-faced owl (Ptilopsis leucotis), or transformer owl, has a rather notable defence mechanism. When faced with another owl slightly larger than it, the bird flares its wings to appear larger. When faced with something much larger than itself, it pulls its feathers inwards, elongates its body, and narrows its eyes to thin slits. It is thought that it uses this ability to camouflage itself, and it shares the ability with relatives like the African scops owl. It is a large greyish-brown scops owl with long ear-tufts and a black-rimmed white face. The facial disc is whitish, with a broad blackish rim. The ear-tufts are long, often with blackish tips. Eyes vary from deep amber-yellow to orange and the bill is yellowish-horn. The Northern White-faced Owl is a nocturnal bird, roosting by day against a tree trunk, in dense foliage, thorny shrubs and other similar hidden places. It feeds on invertebrates such as moths, crickets, beetles, scorpions, and spiders, as well as small vertebrates such as reptiles, birds and mammals –especially rodents and shrews. Hunting is done from a perch, with the owl swooping down on its prey on the ground. Prey is generally swallowed whole. It is found in Africa south of the Sahara, from Senegambia eastwards to Sudan, Somalia, north Uganda and north Kenya. It may overlap the distribution of the similar Southern White-faced Owl in Kenya and Uganda.
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