The Owl Pages

Brown Wood Owl ~ Strix leptogrammica


The Brown Wood Owl is a medium-sized owl with no ear-tufts and generally warm brown plumage.

Photo Gallery (13 pictures)

  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Brown Wood Owl

Sound Gallery

Typical call (including pre-call) - India. © Bruce Marcot.


Description: The facial disc is fulvous or rufous-brown with a narrow but distinct black rim, and a blackish zone around the eyes. The eyebrows are whitish-buffish or pale orange-buff. Eyes are dark brown. The cere is bluish-grey and the bill greenish-horn with a bluish base. The head is blackish-brown with a rufous tint, and separated from the mantle by a prominent cinnamon-buff or fulvous nuchal collar. The mantle and back are chestnut-brown, and rather densely barred dark brown to blackish. The primaries are barred chestnut and dark brown, while the secondaries and wing-coverts are fulvous, barred with dark tawny-brown. The tail is similarly barred, and tipped whitish.
The throat has a narrow, white horizontal zone, contrasting with the brown neck. The upper breast has a rufous or chestnut-brown pectoral band, barred blackish or dark brown. The rest of the underparts are creamy-buff, densely barred brown.
Tarsi are feathered to the base of the toes, which are pale leaden with dull grey claws.

Size: Length 34-45cm. Wing length 286-400mm. Tail length 151-299mm. Weight 800-1100g. Females are larger than males.

Habits: The Brown Wood Owl is a shy, nocturnal bird. Roosts during the daytime in a dark, densely foliaged, often rather lofty tree. If disturbed at roost, this owl will compress itself into a shape resembling a stub of wood, while watching through half-closed eyes. If this fails, it will fly off silently. They are particularly vocal on moonlit nights.

Voice: The song of the male is a single hoot, quickly followed by a vibrating note which lasts about 0.75s - "who-whoowwwwooh". This phrase may be repeated at intervals of several seconds. There is also a tri-syllabic phrase "who to-whoowwwwoh", with the first note very faint.

Hunting & Food: Feeds on small mammals such as rats, mice and shrews. Also takes small birds, frogs, and reptiles. Fish have also been reported.

Breeding: Little known. Breeding season is January-March in southern India. Nests in a tree hole or the hollow of a forked trunk. Normally 2 eggs are laid, averaging 49.9 x 44.1mm.

Habitat: Heavy tropical forest along the sea coast, in lowlands and in lower hills. Lowland primary forest in the Sunda region. Ranges from sea-level up to about 500m elevation.

Distribution: India and Sri Lanka west to southern China and Taiwan, south to Java and Borneo in Indonesia.

Range of Brown Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica)
Range of the Brown Wood Owl Strix leptogrammica

Status: Rather rare, but locally not uncommon. Listed as 'Least Concern' by Birdlife International.

Original Description: Temminck, Coenraad Jacob. 1832. Nouveau recueil de planches coloriees d'oiseaux, pour servier de suite et de complement aux planches enluminees de Buffon: livraison 89, pl. 525.

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.
Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol & Inskipp, Tim. 1999. "Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives". Princeton University Press.
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.
König, Weick and Becking. 1999. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World". Yale University Press.
Voous, Karel H.. 1988. "Owls of the Northern Hemisphere". The MIT Press.
Strix leptogrammica at Xeno-canto.

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

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2020-10-19. Copyright Information.