The Owl Pages

Minahassa Masked Owl ~ Tyto inexspectata


The Minahassa Masked Owl is a medium-sized owl with short rounded wings and no ear-tufts. The bird takes its name from the Minahassa Peninsula in Sulawesi, where it was first described as a breeding bird. It is also known as the Minahassa Barn Owl or the Sulawesi Golden Owl.

Photo Gallery (2 pictures)

  • Minahassa Masked Owl
  • Minahassa Masked Owl

Sound Gallery

Typical call - Lore Lindu NP, Sulawesi, Indonesia. December 1998. CC Raf Drijvers.


Description: The facial disc is relatively small, pale cream, tinged reddish, with brownish shading around the eyes and towards the base of the bill, which is whitish-cream. The rim is rufous-brown with some darker speckles. Eyes are blackish-brown.
The crown to the upper back is greyish-brown, speckled white and black. There is a half-collar on the hind neck which is darker than the surrounding plumage. The rest of the upperparts are more golden-brownish, somewhat mottled greyish, with relatively large white spots bordered black on their upper half.
Wings and tail are ochre with several dark bars. There is a narrow zone at the edge of the wing from the carpal to the base of the primaries which is dark greyish-brown with white and orange-brownish spots.
Underparts are fulvous-white to pale ochre with fine blackish spots.
Legs are feathered uniform ochre to the base of the bare reddish-grey to greyish-brown toes. Claws are blackish-brown.

Size: Length 27-31cm. Wing length 239-272mm. Tail length 102-122mm. No weight data available. Females are larger than males.

Habits: The Minahassa Masked Owl is a nocturnal bird, but little is known of its ecology and behaviour.

Voice: A screech similar to other Barn and Masked Owls.

Hunting & Food: Probably similar to other Barn and Masked Owls, with small mammals predominant.

Breeding: Little known. Likely nests in hollow trees in early April. Fledged juveniles have been observed being fed by parents in early to mid September.

Habitat: The Minahassa Masked Owl lives in primary tropical rainforest with lianas, ferns, palms and epiphytic plants, as well as drier, degraded forests from about 250-1500m elevation.

Distribution: The island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

Range of Minahassa Masked Owl (Tyto inexspectata)
Range of the Minahassa Masked Owl Tyto inexspectata

Status: Listed as Vulnerable by Birdlife International.

Original Description: Schlegel, Herman. 1879. Notities van Rijksmuseum van Natuurl. Historie. [Notes of the Leyden Museum], 1, p. 50-51.

References: (may contain affiliate links)
BirdLife International. 2020. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". IUCN.
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.
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.
Tyto inexspectata at Xeno-canto.

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

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2020-11-12. Copyright Information.