The Owl Pages

Spotted Wood Owl ~ Strix seloputo


The Spotted Wood Owl is a richly coloured medium-sized owl with a large rounded head, no ear-tufts and dark eyes.

Photo Gallery (4 pictures)

  • Spotted Wood Owl
  • Spotted Wood Owl
  • Spotted Wood Owl
  • Spotted Wood Owl

Sound Gallery

Typical calls - Preah Vihear, Cambodia. December 2012. CC Patrik Åberg.
Calls - Preah Vihear, Cambodia. December 2012. CC Patrik Åberg.


Description: The facial disc is orange-buff. Eyes are dark brown, bill is greyish to greenish-black, and cere is greenish-black. The head is chocolate-brown with feathers that have golden bases and white spots with black edges that become bar-shaped on the nape. The upperparts are overall rufous chocolate-brown, profusely spotted with black-edged white spots. The mantle, back and uppertail-coverts are paler chocolate-brown, with black-margined white bars and spots. The outer webs of the scapulars are white or buffish with dark bars and blackish edges. The primaries are brownish, the outer ones having narrow incomplete bars on the outer webs.
The chin is buff, with a large white patch on the throat. The rest of the underparts are buff, barred black and white, the white bands being broader.
Thighs and feathered Tarsi are white, washed with buff and barred with black. Toes are feathered, and coloured dark olive, with horn-coloured claws.

Size: Length 44-48cm. Wing length 297-376mm. Tail length 175-198mm. Weight 1011g (one male). Females are larger than males.

Habits: The Spotted Wood Owl is a nocturnal bird, becoming active at dusk. They can be very vocal at this time, and also when returning at dawn. Roosts by day, often in pairs, close to the trunk in densely foliaged tall trees or groves of trees.

Voice: A rolling staccato huhuhu followed by a deep drawn-out whoo. Also utters a loud, quivering, eerie chuhua-aa regularly on emerging from daytime roost, and when returning at dawn, as well as infrequently during the night. On other occasions, gives a mellow, metallic hoot.

Hunting & Food: Feeds mainly on rats and mice, small birds and large insects. Pellets are loose and ellipsoid, about 3.5 x 2 cm.

Breeding: Breeding season is from January to August. Breeds in tree holes or in open branches, sometimes on the top of a Bird's nest fern, often high up in a tall tree. Usually 2, but sometimes 3 eggs are laid. They are oval, pure white and average about 49 x 42 mm. Eggs are laid on the wood or leaf debris.

Habitat: Partially cleared forest, evergreen secondary forest, forest edges, plantations and parks in human settlements. Forages freely in open and semi-open country, orchards and parks, as well as between houses in areas with much parkland. Also inhabits unpopulated remote regions such as swamp forest and mangroves near the coast. Ranges from sea-level up to about 1000m.

Distribution: Southern Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Southern Vietnam and Malay Peninsula, Central Sumatra, discontinuously to Java, Bawean Island off Northern Java, Palawan and Calamian Islands in western Philippines.

Range of Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo)
Range of the Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo

Status: Not uncommon. Listed as 'Least Concern' by Birdlife International.

Original Description: Horsfield, Thomas. 1821. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London (Trans. Linn. Soc. London) (1) 13: p. 140.

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.
International Ornithological Congress. 2023. "IOC World Bird List - Owls".
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press.
Voous, Karel H.. 1988. "Owls of the Northern Hemisphere". The MIT Press.
Strix seloputo at Xeno-canto.

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

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2020-10-26. Copyright Information.