Lesser Sooty Owl - Tyto multipunctata
Calls - Tyto multipunctata
These smaller cousins to the Sooty Owl of the south inhabit the north Queensland
rainforests. They are sometimes called the Silver Owl.
[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: A small to medium, sooty black Owl with silvery white
underparts. They have many similarities to the Sooty Owl but are lighter in colour and
noticeably smaller. The upperparts are sooty black or grey-brown with large numbers of
fine silvery white spots on the head and wings. They have a large round facial disc with
silvery white shading to black around the eyes - the face is heavily edged black.
Underparts are silvery white with many fine dark grey or sooty black chevrons,
particularly on the breast. Lesser Sooty Owls have very short tails. Their eyes are very
large with a black Iris. The beak is pale horn. Toes are pale grey with black talons.
Sexes look similar but the female is usually slightly larger.
Size: Female - Length 35-38cm (14-15") Weight up to 540g (19oz)
Male - Length 31-35cm (12-14") Weight up to 450g
Habits: A strictly nocturnal bird. Hunts in clearings and near roads, but also inside forest.
piercing downscale whistle,
which can sound like a shriek at close quarters. This is similar to the Sooty Owl, but
less powerful, and quite often with a slight step in the downward progression of the call.
There are also a variety of trills and chirrups associated
Hunting & Food: Lesser Sooty Owls hunt mainly small mammals, but also
take insects and some birds. They generally hunt from low perches and take prey on the
Breeding: The season is very variable and dependant on rain. Eggs are
laid in any month, but most records of laying are from March to May. Pairs usually become
more noisy at the start of the season with frequent 'bomb whistling'. Sometimes several
pairs may be within earshot of each other, their calling clearly territorial. Pairs perch
close together with high-pitched trilling. The nest is usually a large hollow in the trunk
or a main limb of a living tree, often Rose Gum. The female may occupy the hollow for many
weeks before laying, going out briefly only once or twice each night. They have territories as small as 50 hectares
(123.5 Acres) and some nests have been recorded only 400 metres (1312 feet) apart. Nest hollows are often very high above the ground, up to 30 m.
Generally 2 eggs are
laid, but sometimes 1. They are dull white rounded ovals of about 41mm (1.6") by
36-39mm (1.4-1.5"). Incubation is 40-42 days and the young have downs of sooty grey.
Fledging is at about 3 months. Newly fledged young are indistinguishable from adults and
remain in the breeding territory at least for several weeks and are fed by the parents.
Habitat: Mountain rainforests of north Queensland.
Distribution: Northeastern Australia in the Atherton region of Queensland.
There have been sightings recorded on Hinchinbrook
Distribution of the Lesser Sooty Owl Tyto multipunctata
Status: Probably threatened.
Original Description: Mathews, Gregory Macalister. 1912. Novitates Zoologicae (Novit. Zool.) 18: p 257.
Page compiled by Deane P. Lewis. Page last updated 2012-08-13
OwlPages.com Owl Species ID: 010.020.000