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Brown Wood Owl - Strix leptogrammica

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Calls - Strix leptogrammica
Typical calls India. (Faint introductory note on the second call) © Bruce Marcot

Introduction: The Brown Wood Owl is a medium-sized owl with no ear-tufts and generally warm brown plumage.

[For help with terms used in the description, see parts of an owl. For general characteristics common to most owl species, see owl physiology.]

Description: The facial disc is fulvous or rufous-brown with a narrow but distinct black rim, and a blackish zone around the eyes. The eyebrows are whitish-buffish or pale orange-buff. Eyes are dark brown. The cere is bluish-grey and the bill greenish-horn with a bluish base. The head is blackish-brown with a rufous tint, and separated from the mantle by a prominent cinnamon-buff or fulvous nuchal collar. The mantle and back are chestnut-brown, and rather densely barred dark brown to blackish. The primaries are barred chestnut and dark brown, while the secondaries and wing-coverts are fulvous, barred with dark tawny-brown. The tail is similarly barred, and tipped whitish.
The throat has a narrow, white horizontal zone, contrasting with the brown neck. The upper breast has a rufous or chestnut-brown pectoral band, barred blackish or dark brown. The rest of the underparts are creamy-buff, densely barred brown.
Tarsi are feathered to the base of the toes, which are pale leaden with dull grey claws.

Size: Length 34-45cm. Wing length 286-400mm. Tail length 151-299mm. Weight 800-1100g. Females are larger than males.

Habits: The Brown Wood Owl is a shy, nocturnal bird. Roosts during the daytime in a dark, densely foliaged, often rather lofty tree. If disturbed at roost, this owl will compress itself into a shape resembling a stub of wood, while watching through half-closed eyes. If this fails, it will fly off silently. They are particularly vocal on moonlit nights.

Voice: The song of the male is a single hoot, quickly followed by a vibrating note which lasts about 0.75s - "who-whoowwwwooh". This phrase may be repeated at intervals of several seconds. There is also a tri-syllabic phrase "who to-whoowwwwoh", with the first note very faint.

Hunting & Food: Feeds on small mammals such as rats, mice and shrews. Also takes small birds and reptiles. Fish have also been reported.

Breeding: Little known. Breeding season is January-March in southern India. Nests in a tree hole or the hollow of a forked trunk. Normally 2 eggs are laid, averaging 49.9 x 44.1mm.

Habitat: Heavy tropical forest along the sea coast, in lowlands and in lower hills. Lowland primary forest in the Sunda region. Ranges from sea-level up to about 500m elevation.

Distribution: Peninsular India, Sri Lanka, southern Burma, southern Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Belitung, Nias Island, Mentawai Islands, Banyak Islands, Borneo and west Java.

Distribution of Brown Wood Owl - Strix leptogrammica
Distribution of the Brown Wood Owl Strix leptogrammica

Status: Rather rare, but locally not uncommon.

Original Description: Temminck, Coenraad Jacob. 1832. Nouveau recueil de planches coloriees d'oiseaux, pour servier de suite et de complement aux planches enluminees de Buffon: livraison 89, pl. 525. [See Dickinson, EC. 2001. Systematic notes on Asian birds: 9. The "Nouveau recueil de planches coloriees" of Temminck & Laugier (1820-1839)' Zool. Verh., Leiden 335 p.43,45.]

Subspecies: S. l. leptogrammica, S. l. indranee, S. l. maingayi, S. l. myrtha, S. l. niasensis, S. l. nyctiphasma, S. l. ochrogenys, S. l. vaga, S. l. chaseni, S. l. bartelsi


Boyer and Hume. 1991. "Owls of the World". BookSales Inc
del Hoyo, Elliott & Sargatal. 1999. "Handbook of the Birds of the World: Barn Owls to Hummingbirds". Buteo Books
Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol & Inskipp, Tim. 1999. "Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives". Princeton University Press
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press
König, Weick and Becking. 1999. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World". Yale University Press
Mikkola, Heimo. 2012. "Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide". Bloomsbury
Voous, Karel H. 1988. "Owls of the Northern Hemisphere". The MIT Press

Page Information:

Page compiled by . Page last updated 2013-09-20 Owl Species ID: 130.030.000

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