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Tasmanian Masked Owl - Tyto castanops

Calls - Tyto castanops
Typical call Tasmania. © Michael Todd
Male cackling call Tasmania. © Michael Todd

Introduction: The Tasmanian Masked Owl is a fairly large owl with large powerful talons and no ear-tufts. It is the largest and most powerful of all Tyto owls. Females are darker than males.

[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: Female: The facial disc is pale chestnut to brownish-buff, with a darker, often nearly black zone around the eyes which extends towards the base of the bill. The rim of the facial disc is very prominently brown, with darker speckles. The eyes are blackish brown and the bill is whitish-cream.
Upperparts are rather dark greyish-brown, peppered with white and black spots. The wing coverts are similar. Flight feathers are greyish-brown with some darker bars and fulvous-brown markings. The tail feathers are greyish-brown with four darker bars.
Underparts are fulvous with large dark spots.
Tarsi are feathered fulvous-brown to the base of the toes, which are greyish-brown to yellowish-grey. Claws are blackish-brown.
Male: Generally paler in colour, with the facial disc being brownish-white and the underparts whitish or pale fulvous with smaller dark brown spots.

Size: Length 47-55cm. Wing length 310-387mm. Tail length 140-178mm. Weight about 600-1260g. Females are larger and heavier than males.

Habits: The Tasmanian Masked Owl is nocturnal and secretive. Roosts by day in dense foliage of tall trees, or in hollow tree trunks; sometimes in caves or rock crevices.

Voice: Typical call is a screech similar to the Barn Owl, but louder and more rasping. There is also a cackling call.

Hunting & Food: Hunts small mammals, up to the size of rabbits. May also take smaller birds and lizards.

Breeding: Nests in tree hollows. 2-4 white eggs are laid and incubated by the female alone. Nestling fledge at 10-12 weeks.

Habitat: Forest and semi-open wooded areas and bushy landscapes.

Distribution: Tasmania, including Maria Island.

Distribution of Tasmanian Masked Owl - Tyto castanops
Distribution of the Tasmanian Masked Owl Tyto castanops

Status: Probably endangered.

Original Description: Gould, John. 1837. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1836) (PZS) pt. 4, no. 48: p 140.


Boyer and Hume. 1991. "Owls of the World". BookSales Inc
Duncan, James R. 2003. "Owls of the World: Their Lives, Behavior and Survival". Firefly Books
Hollands, David. 1991. "Birds of the Night". Reed Books
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 2013-08-22 Owl Species ID: 010.100.000

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