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Mottled Wood Owl - Strix ocellata

Calls - Strix ocellata
Duet 1 Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, India. January 2013. CC Frank Lambert
Duet 2 Chelamattom, Ernakulam, India. May 2010. CC Dilip KG
Territorial / Breeding Kihim, Maharashtra, India. March 1976. [ML 646 Ben King] © Macaulay Library
Calls Shivalik Hills, Dehra Dun, North India © Bruce Marcot

Introduction: The Mottled Wood Owl is a medium-sized yellowish-red owl with a rounded head and no ear-tufts.

[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 whitish, and finely barred concentrically with blackish-brown. Eyes are dark brown and eyelids are dusky pink or dull coral-red. The bill is horn-black with a paler tip. The nape is white and black, mixed with a chocolate colour.
Upperparts are mottled and vermiculated with reddish-brown, black, white and buff. There is prominent black spotting on the nuchal area.
The throat is chestnut and black, stippled with white. The rest of the underparts are white with golden-buff to orange-buff and with narrow blackish bars.
The toes are brownish-flesh or dirty yellowish-brown with yellow soles. Claws are horn-black.

Size: Length 41-48cm. Wing length 320-372mm. Tail length 174-215mm. Weight data unavailable. Females are likely larger than males.

Habits: The Mottled Wood Owl is a generally nocturnal bird. Roosts during the day on a branch hidden among foliage, in pairs or sometimes family groups.

Voice: In breeding season, the male utters a loud, shivering, hollow, 'laughing' call - "Chuhuawaarrrr", which is the territorial song. Both sexes also give a single, metallic hoot, as well as multiple conversational hoots. Occasionally gives a harsh screech similar to a Barn Owl.

Hunting & Food: Feeds on rats, mice and other rodents, as well as birds up to the size of a domestic pigeon. Also takes lizards, crabs, beetles and large insects.

Breeding: The breeding biology of the Mottled Wood Owl is little known. Breeding season is generally February to April. Nests are in natural hollows. Normally 2, sometimes 3, creamy-white eggs are laid, averaging 51.1 x 42.6mm.

Habitat: Lightly wooded plains, open woodland and groves of mature trees on outskirts of villages and cultivated land.

Distribution: India, from the Himalayas eastward to lower Bengal an south to southern Nilgiris and Pondicherry. Formerly in northeastern Pakistan, but has not been seen there since the early 20th centrury. There have also been sightings in western Burma.

Distribution of Mottled Wood Owl - Strix ocellata
Distribution of the Mottled Wood Owl Strix ocellata

Status: Common and widely distributed.

Original Description: Lesson, Rene Primevere. 1839. Rev.Zool. Revue Zoologique, par la Societe Cuvierienne (Rev. Zool.; Journal mensuel publie sous la direction de M. F. E. Guerin-Meneville) 2: p. 289.

Subspecies: S. o. ocellata, S. o. grandis, S. o. grisescens


Baker, Stuart. 1927. "The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma 2nd Ed. Vol IV". Taylor and Francis
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

Page Information:

Page compiled by . Page last updated 2013-10-04 Owl Species ID: 130.020.000

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