The Owl Pages

Mottled Wood Owl ~ Strix ocellata


The Mottled Wood Owl is a medium-sized yellowish-red owl with a rounded head and no ear-tufts.

Photo Gallery (6 pictures)

  • Mottled Wood Owl
  • Mottled Wood Owl
  • Mottled Wood Owl
  • Mottled Wood Owl
  • Mottled Wood Owl
  • Mottled Wood Owl

Sound Gallery

Duet 1 - Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, India. January 2013. CC Frank Lambert.
Duet 2 - Chelamattom, Ernakulam, India. May 2010. CC Dilip KG.


Description: The facial disc is whitish, and finely barred concentrically with blackish-brown. Eyes are dark brown and eyelids are dusky pink or dull coral-red. The bill is horn-black with a paler tip. The nape is white and black, mixed with a chocolate colour.
Upperparts are mottled and vermiculated with reddish-brown, black, white and buff. There is prominent black spotting on the nuchal area.
The throat is chestnut and black, stippled with white. The rest of the underparts are white with golden-buff to orange-buff and with narrow blackish bars.
The toes are brownish-flesh or dirty yellowish-brown with yellow soles. Claws are horn-black.

Size: Length 41-48cm. Wing length 320-372mm. Tail length 174-215mm. Weight data unavailable. Females are likely larger than males.

Habits: The Mottled Wood Owl is a generally nocturnal bird. Roosts during the day on a branch hidden among foliage, in pairs or sometimes family groups.

Voice: In breeding season, the male utters a loud, shivering, hollow, 'laughing' call - "Chuhuawaarrrr", which is the territorial song. Both sexes also give a single, metallic hoot, as well as multiple conversational hoots. Occasionally gives a harsh screech similar to a Barn Owl.

Hunting & Food: Feeds on rats, mice and other rodents, as well as birds up to the size of a domestic pigeon. Also takes lizards, crabs, beetles and large insects.

Breeding: The breeding biology of the Mottled Wood Owl is little known. Breeding season is generally February to April. Nests are in natural hollows. Normally 2, sometimes 3, creamy-white eggs are laid, averaging 51.1 x 42.6mm.

Habitat: Lightly wooded plains, open woodland and groves of mature trees on outskirts of villages and cultivated land.

Distribution: Throughout most of India, to the Himalayas.

Range of Mottled Wood Owl (Strix ocellata)
Range of the Mottled Wood Owl Strix ocellata

Status: Common and widely distributed.

Original Description: Lesson, Rene Primevere. 1839. Rev.Zool. Revue Zoologique, par la Societe Cuvierienne (Rev. Zool.; Journal mensuel publie sous la direction de M. F. E. Guerin-Meneville) 2: p. 289.

Baker, Stuart. 1927. "The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma 2nd Ed. Vol IV". Taylor and Francis.
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.
Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol & Inskipp, Tim. 1999. "Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives". Princeton University Press.
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.
Strix ocellata at Xeno-canto.

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

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