The Owl Pages

Black-banded Owl ~ Strix huhula (Ciccaba huhula)


The Black-banded Owl is a small to medium-sized owl with a rounded head and no ear-tufts.

Photo Gallery (7 pictures)

  • Black-banded Owl
  • Black-banded Owl
  • Black-banded Owl
  • Black-banded Owl
  • Black-banded Owl
  • Black-banded Owl
  • Black-banded Owl

Sound Gallery

Typical call - San Martín Region, Peru. July 2003. CC Dan Lane.


Description: The facial disc is blackish, and densely marked with whitish concentric lines, with the rim and eyebrows finely speckled whitish and black. Eyes are brown to dark brown with pinkish-flesh eyelids. Cere and bill are yellowish-horn to pale orange-yellow. The bristles around the bill are blackish. The chin has a blackish patch. The forehead and crown to the lower back are densely marked with narrow, whitish wavy bars.
Upperparts are sooty-brown to blackish. Flight feathers are sooty-brown with some paler bars. Primaries are distinctly blacker than the rest of the plumage. Tail feathers are sooty blackish-brown with 4-5 narrow whitish bars and a white terminal band.
Underparts are distinctly barred blackish and white, the white bars being broader than on the upperparts.
Tarsi are feathered to the base of the toes with black and white mottled feathering. Toes are bare and yellowish. Claws are pale horn with darker tips.

Size: Length 30-36cm. Wing length 243-280mm. Weight of one specimen 397g.

Habits: The Black-banded Owl is a nocturnal bird, roosting in a well-concealed spot in a tree during the day, and becoming active at dusk.

Voice: The song of the male is a rapid series of 3-4 deep guttural notes increasing in volume and pitch, followed by a louder, explosive, down-slurred hoot, and sometimes a second short, emphasised hoot after a short break - wobobobo hwuo or wobobobo whuo hu. This is repeated after a while. The female has a similar but higher-pitched, more wailing song. Also recorded is a series of higher-pitched hoots in a sequence of 2-3 notes, possibly a female call - how-how-how.

Hunting & Food: The Black-banded Owl eats mainly insects, especially locusts, mantises and beetles. They also take small mammals and other small vertebrates.

Breeding: The breeding biology of this owl is virtually unknown. Likely breeds in natural tree holes or rotten stumps. In the Brazilian Western Amazon, courtship behaviour between a pair was observed in late May.

Habitat: Tropical and subtropical rainforest, forest clearings, and coffee and banana plantations in forested areas. Generally in lowlands up to about 500m but may be found higher in the cloud forests on the Andean slopes. This owl has been recorded at 1100m in northern Argentina.

Distribution: South America east of the Andes, from Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador to the Amazon, south to Bolivia and northern Argentina. Also eastern Paraguay, northeastern Argentina and southeast Brazil.

Range of Black-banded Owl (Strix huhula)
Range of the Black-banded Owl Strix huhula

Status: Listed as 'Least Concern' by Birdlife International.

Original Description: Daudin, Francois Marie. 1800. Traite elementaire et complet d'Ornithologie, ou Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux (Traited Orn. [Daudin]) 2: p. 190.

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.
de Almeida, M.R.N., da Costa, J.G., Karlokoski, A. et al. 2021. "First record of courtship display of Strix huhula (Strigiformes: Strigidae) in the Brazilian Western Amazon.". Ornithology research.
del Hoyo, Elliott & Sargatal. 1999. "Handbook of the Birds of the World: Barn Owls to Hummingbirds". Buteo Books.
Duncan, James R.. 2003. "Owls of the World: Their Lives, Behavior and Survival". Firefly Books.
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press.
Strix huhula at Xeno-canto.

See also: Other owls from South America, Genus: Strix.

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2021-06-10. Copyright Information.