The Owl Pages

Lesser Masked Owl ~ Tyto sororcula


The Lesser Masked Owl is a small to medium-sized barn owl with no ear-tufts. It is also known as the Moluccan Masked Owl.

Photo Gallery (2 pictures)

  • Lesser Masked Owl
  • Lesser Masked Owl


Description: The facial disc is pale rufous-brown, with a brownish rim that is finely speckled ochre-yellow. There is a brownish wash around the eyes, extending to the base of the bill. The eyes are blackish-brown and the bill yellowish-cream.
The upperparts from the crown to the rump and to the wing-coverts are greyish-brown with orange patches, coarsely spotted with white dots that have black borders. The yellowish bases of the greyish-brown feathers are visible through them, giving an irregularly mottled appearance.
Flight and tail feathers are greyish to rufous-brown with darker bars, contrasting with the wing-coverts. The entire underparts are whitish with coarse brown dots.
The feet are feathered to the base of the toes. The toes are bare, and coloured yellowish-grey with blackish-brown claws.

Size: Length 29-31cm. Wing length 227-251mm. No weight data available.

Habits: Little known. Sometimes hides in limestone caves during the day.

Voice: Three rapidly screeched whistles over a two second period. This is sometimes preceded by 3-4 slower, more drawn-out, higher pitched screeches.

Hunting & Food: Not studied, probably similar to other Tyto species.

Breeding: The breeding habits of the Lesser Masked owl have not been studied. Probably nests in tree hollows.

Habitat: Presumed to live in primary forest.

Distribution: The islands of Tanimbar and Buru in the Lesser Sundas.

Range of Lesser Masked Owl (Tyto sororcula)
Range of the Lesser Masked Owl Tyto sororcula

Status: Probably rare and endangered.

Original Description: Sclater, Philip Lutley. 1883. Proceedings of the Scientific meetings of the Zoological Society of London for the year 1883 (PZS). Pt.1, p 52-53.

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.
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press.

See also: Other owls from Asia, Genus: Tyto.

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2016-02-28.