The Owl Pages

Jungle Owlet ~ Glaucidium radiatum (Taenioglaux radiata)


The Jungle Owlet is a very small owl with a rounded head and no ear-tufts. It is also known as the Barred Jungle Owlet.

Photo Gallery (11 pictures)

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  • Jungle Owlet

Sound Gallery

Typical call - Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, India. January 2015. CC Frank Lambert.


Description: The facial disc is indistinct, while the chin, short eyebrows and moustachial streak are pure white. Eyes are bright lemon-yellow and the cere bluish. The bill is greenish-yellow to yellowish-grey. There is a white patch on the breast. Upperparts are dark greyish-brown, and densely marked with narrow, pale ochre or rufous bars. There are bars on the back, rump and uppertail-coverts that are often almost pure white.
The underparts are white, more or less tinged rufous to the lower breast and pure white on the vent and belly. Breast and belly sides, and flanks are barred grey-brown.
Some birds are greyer than others.
Tarsi are feathered and the toes finely bristled, and coloured dirty greenish-yellow with yellowish soles. Claws are dark horn-brown.

Size: Length about 20cm. Wing length 120-136mm. Tail length 62-84mm. Weight 88-114g.

Habits: The Barred Jungle Owlet is a generally crepuscular owl most active an hour or so before dusk and a similar time before sunrise, but also moves about during the night. Frequents the tops of tall trees, usually on steep hillsides. These owls can be seen sunbathing in the early morning or late afternoon, and may fly freely and hunt in the daytime, especially if the weather is cloudy. However, they usually roost during the day on a leafy branch or in a tree hollow.

Voice: The song of the male is a loud, musical, wooden trill. It starts softly, becomes louder and the fades away - praorr-praorr-praorr-praorr. A phrase can contain 3-10 notes at a rate of about 1.5-2.5 notes per second. Phrases are repeated at intervals of several seconds. They are often uttered monotonously on moonlit nights.
There is also a sequence of trilled notes - kwurr kwurr kwurr...

Hunting & Food: Barred Jungle Owlets feed mostly on grasshoppers, locusts, cicadas and other large insects. They will also take molluscs, lizards, mice and small birds.

Breeding: Breeding season is from March to May. Nests are in natural tree hollows, or abandoned woodpecker or barbet holes; either in the trunk or branch of a tree standing in an open forest. Nest sites are usually 3 to 8 metres from the ground. Three or four roundish white eggs are laid averaging 31.4 x 26.8mm.

Habitat: Himalayan foothills, submontane moist deciduous forest and secondary jungle with bamboos. Also in dry to moist deciduous forests. Occurs up to about 2000m elevation (1100m in Sri Lanka).

Distribution: Northern India from Uttarakhand east through southern Nepal to Bhutan and Bangladesh. South through peninsular India to north and east Sri Lanka.

Range of Jungle Owlet (Glaucidium radiatum)
Range of the Jungle Owlet Glaucidium radiatum

Status: Locally not rare. Listed as 'Least Concern' by Birdlife International.

Original Description: Tickell, Samuel Richard. 1833. The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal) 2: p. 572.

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.
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.
Glaucidium radiatum at Xeno-canto.

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

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2020-10-31. Copyright Information.