BIRDS of THE WORLD - An Online Bird Book
SEARCH 

Old World OWLS

Order Strigiformes Family Strigidae


Owls are found on all continents except Antarctica. Owls are divided into two families: the typical owls, Strigidae; and the barn-owls, Tytonidae. They range in size from 13-70 cm. Owls do not construct nests, but rather look for a sheltered nesting site or an abandoned nest in trees, underground burrows, or in buildings, barns and caves.

Owls are solitary and nocturnal. They hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds though a few species specialize in hunting fish. Most hunt for prey only in the darkness. Much of the owls' hunting strategy depends on stealth and surprise. They are very quiet in flight plus they have dull colors. Owls have large forward-facing eyes and ear-holes, a hawk-like beak, a flat face, and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye. The facial disc helps to funnel the sound of prey to their ears. Although owls have binocular vision, their large eyes are fixed in their sockets, as with other birds, and they must turn their entire head to change views. Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees in either direction. The female is usually larger than the male.


Owl species can be found on these web pages:
New World Owls, Old World OwlsOwl_Pacific, Barn Owls, Eagle-Owls, Pygmy-Owls, Scops-Owls


Genus Asio
Asio owls have ear-like tufts on the head; facial disk; long wings. They are found in the New World and the Old World.

Owl, Abyssinian  or African Long-eared OwAsio abyssinicus  Found: Africa
The Abyssinian Owl has mainly brown plumage; white spots on upperparts; lighter underparts; white facial disk; long brown ear tufts with white edges.
Image by: 1) Andrew Dixon  2) Mark Piazzi


Owl, Long-eared  Asio otus  Found: North America, Europe, Asia, northern Africa
The Long-eared Owl mottled brown upperparts; light brown underparts with streaks; long ears which may be held flat on close to the head.
Similar to: Eurasian Eagle Owl. Eurasian Eagle Owl much bigger than Long-eared Owl. Eurasian Eagle has proportionally larger head and chest.
Similar to: Great Horned Owl. Great Horned Owl much bigger than Long-eared Owl. Great Horned Owl has proportionally larger head and chest.
Similar to: Short-eared Owl. Long-eared Owl has longer ear-tufts. Short-eared owl has unstreaked belly; Long-ear Owl has streaks on belly.
Image by:   1) Charlie Westerinen - Morongo Valley Riparian Preserve, California  2) Alpo Roikola    3) Greg Smith - California   4) Mindaugas Urbonas  5) Cristiano Crolle - Rovellasca, Italy
1) Fledglings


Owl, Madagascar Long-eared  Asio madagascariensis  Found: Madagascar
The Madagascar Long-eared Owl has brownish-black upperparts, crown, nape; buff underparts with black streaks; brown facial disk with white X bordering the eyes; black bill; orange eyes.
Image by: 1) Sam Driscoll  2) Jungle Jenny


Owl, Marsh  Asio capensis     Found: Africa
The Marsh Owl has dark brown upperparts; light brown underparts; light colored facial disk; short ear-tufts that are not usually visible; yellow eyes with black iris.
Image by: 1, 2) Arno Meintjes
1) Juvenile and adult


Owl, Short-eared Asio flammeus   Found: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa
The Short-eared Owl has mottled dark brown upperparts; light brown underparts with streaks on upper-breast; barred tail, wings.
Similar to: Barn Owl. Barn Owl has dark eyes; Short-eared Owl has yellow eyes.
Similar to: Long-eared Owl. Long-eared Owl has longer ear-tufts. Short-eared owl has unstreaked belly; Long-ear Owl has streaks on bell.
Image by:  1) Winnu   2) Caryn - Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador   3, 4) Dick Daniels - Carolina Raptor Center   5) Dario Sanches - Brazil  6) Steve Garvie - Scotland   7) Cristiano Crolle - Fontanellato, Italy


Pueo   Asio flammeus sandwichensis Found: Hawaii
Image by: 1) Forest_and_Kim_Starr - Maui  2) Charlie_Westerinen - Hilo Zoo


Owl, Stygian  Asio stygius  Found: Central and South America
The Stygian Owl has dusky upperparts; light underparts with dark streaks; dark facial disk; yellow eyes; long ear-tufts.
Image by: 1) Ron Knight  2) Herbert_Fischer  3) Nick Athanas - Brazil



Genus Jubula - 1 species

Owl,_Maned  Jubula lettii  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) nolafryar



Genus Ketupa
The Fish Owls, sometimes placed in genus Bubo, are so named because fish is their major diet. They are found in Asia. See also Fishing Owls of genus Scotopelia.

Owl, Blakiston's Fish-  Ketupa blakistoni  also  Bubo blakistoni  Found: Asia
The Blakiston's Fish-Owl may be the largest species of owl. It has buff-brown upperpats which are heavily streaked with darker brown; paler buff-brown underparts with some streaking; white throat; yellow eyes.
Similar to: Eurasian Eagle-Owl. Blakiston's Fish-Owl has yellow eyes; Eurasian Eagle-Owl has orange eyes.
Image by: 1) Robert tdc  2, 3) Hiyashi Haka 


Owl, Brown Fish-  Ketupa zeylonensis  Found: Asia
The Brown Fish-Owl has reddish-brown upperparts with dark streaks; whitish to buff underparts with dark streaks and faint barring; white throat; yellow eyes.
Similar to: Tawny Fish-Owl. Brown Fish-Owl has faint barring on the underparts; Tawny Fish-Owl does not.
Image by: 1) Somaskanda - India  2) Thimindu Goonatillake  3) Bird Brian


Owl, Buffy Fish-  Ketupa ketupu  Found: India, southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia
The Buffy Fish-Owl has tawny (yellowish-brown) upperparts with black marks; lighter tawny underparts with dark stripes; wide ear tufts which are close to the head.
Similar to: Tawny Fish-Owl. Buffy Fish-Owl has black marks on upperpart; Tawny Fish-Owl doe not.
Image by: 1) D Chai21   2) Mark Benedict  3) Jayanth Sharma  4) Doug Janson


Owl, Tawny Fish-  Ketupa flavipes  also  Bubo flavipes  Found: Asia
The Tawny Fish-Owl has tawny (yellowish-brown) upperparts upperparts; lighter tawny underparts with dark stripes; wide ear tufts which are close to the head.
Similar to: Brown Fish-Owl. Brown Fish-Owl has faint barring on the underparts; Tawny Fish-Owl does not.
Similar to: Buffy Fish-Owl. Buffy Fish-Owl has black marks on upperpart; Tawny Fish-Owl doe not.
Image by: 1) Koshy Koshy - India  2) Jayanth Sharma 



Genus Ptilopsis

Owl, Northern White-faced  Ptilopsis leucotis  Found: Africa
The Northern White-faced Owl has brownish-gray upperparts with dark streaks; white spots on the scapulars; brownish-white underparts with dark streaks; white face with black border; black around orange eyes.
Similar to: Southern White-faced Owl. The Northern White-faced Owl is usually browner than the Southern White-faced Owl and has reduced streaks below. They are usually separated by range with the Northern White-faced Owl north of the equator.
Image by: 1) Frank Wouters 2) U-ichiro Muralsomi - captivity, Japan


Owl, Southern White-faced Ptilopsis granti  Found: Africa
The Southern White-faced Owl has gray upperparts with dark streaks; white spots on the scapulars; whitish underparts with dark streaks; white face with black border; black around orange eyes.
Similar to: Northern White-faced Owl. The Northern White-faced Owl is usually browner than the Southern White-faced Owl and has reduced streaks below. They are usually separated by range with the Northern White-faced Owl north of the equator.
Image by: 1) OpenCage  2) Joachim Huber - Botswana
f


Genus Scotopelia
The fishing owls primary food is fish!

Owl, Pel's Fishing-  Scotopelia peli  Found: sub-Saharan Africa
The Pel's Fishing-Owl has rufous-brown upperparts with dense dark barrign; cinnamon underparts with scaling; dark eyes; negligible ear tufts.
Image by: Massimiliano Sticca - Botswana  2) Morilla - Zambia  3) Austin King - Botswana


Owl,_Rufous_Fishing-  Scotopelia ussheri  Found: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone
Image by: 1) John_Gerrard_Keulemans  2) David_Monticelli


Owl, Vermiculated Fishing-  Scotopelia bouvieri  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Okosodo Francis



Genus Strix
The Strix owls have no ear tufts. They are medium size to large and are powerful owls. Most are highly nocturnal and live in the woods. Many are termed Wood-Owls. They are found in the New World and the Old World.

Owl, African Wood- Strix woodfordii  Found: Africa
The African Wood-Owl has light underparts with darker barring; less barring on upper-breast; round head; large dark eyes with white spectacles.
Image by: 1) Sofia, Sophia   2, 3, 4) Arno Meintjes


Owl, Barred Strix varia   Found: North America
The Barred Owl has mottled gray-brown upperparts; whitish underparts with bars on upper-breast and streaks on lower-breast plus belly; yellow beak; brown eyes.
Similar to: Great Gray Owl. Great Gray Owl much bigger than Barred Owl. Barred Owl has brown eyes; Great Gray Owl has yellow eyes.
Similar to: Spotted Owl. Barred Owl has vertical stripes on underparts; Spotted Owl has spots on underparts.
Image by: 1) D G Robertson - Quebec  2) Dick Daniels - Mexico Beach, Florida   3) Dick - Sandwich, New Hampshire  4, 5) Dick - Carolina Raptor Centerr



Owl, Brown Wood-  Strix leptogrammica  Found: southern Asia, Indonesia
The Brown Wood-Owl has brown upperparts; buff underparts with light brown vermiculation; upper-breast sometimes brown; dark eyes and mask.
Image by: 1) Tanaka Juuyoh - Japan  2, 3) AdamW


Owl, Chaco  Strix chacoensis  Found: Argentina, Bolivia,  Paraguay
Image by: 1) pm107uk    2) Andrew Batran   3) Nick Athanas - Argentina


Owl,_Desert  Strix hadorami  Found: Egypt, Syria, Israel, Arabian Peninsular
The Desert Owl is also considered a subspecies of the Tawny Owl. Its stocky body and round head recall a small tawny owl, but it is paler, less streaked, particularly on the underparts, and has yellow eyes.
Image by: 1) Thomas_Krumenacker


Owl, Fulvous  Strix fulvescens  Found: Central America
Image by: 1)  Dominic Sherony 2) Jorge Montejo


Owl, Great Gray  also Lapland Owl Strix nebulosa   Found: North America, Europe, Asia
The Great Gray Owl has gray upperparts; light underparts with dark streaks; gray face with white crescents; yellow eyes; largest facial disk of any raptor.
Similar to: Barred Owl. Great Gray Owl much bigger than Barred Owl. Barred Owl has brown eyes; Great Gray Owl has yellow eyes.
Image by: 1) Brian Scott  2) Olibac  3) Crotach - Finland
    4) Alan D. Wilson - Colony Farm Regional Park, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia


Owl,_Himalayan  Strix nivicolum  Found: forests of Himalayas and Taiwan
Image by: 1) Jainy_Kuriakose - India


Owl, Mottled Wood-  Strix ocellata  Found: India
The Mottled Wood-Owl has reddish-brown and white plumage which is mottled and vermiculated; white chin; dark brown eyes.
Similar to: Spotted Wood-Owl. Spotted Wood-Owl has more distinct facial disk than Mottled Wood-Owl.
Image by: 1) Shah Jahan  2) Sumeet Moghe


Owl,_Omani  Strix butleri  Found: Oman
The Omani Owl has dark grayish-brown upperparts; pale underparts with fine dark streaks; face mostly pale but with dark gray forehead; banded tail.
Image by: 1) Arnoud_Van_Den_Berg


Owl,_Pere_David's  Strix davidi  Found: central China
Image by: 1) Yann_Muzika


Owl, Rufous-legged  Strix rufipes  Found: Argentina, Chile, Falkland Islands
The Rufous-legged Owl has dark grayish-brown upperparts; light underparts with heavy dark barring; yellow bill; dark eyes; rusty thighs.
Similar to: Rusty-barred Owl. Barring on Rufous-legged Owl underparts is more definitive than on Rustry-barred Owl. Rufous-legged Owl has dark brown upperparts; Rusty-barred Owl has reddish-brown upperparts.
Image by: 1) Julian Tysoe  2) Tanaka  Juuyoh  3) Nick Athanas - Chile


Owl, Rusty-barred  Strix hylophila  Found: South America
The Rusty-barred owl has chestnut upperparts and head with dark barring; light underparts with dark barring and dashes; yellow bill; dark eyes; white collar.
Similar to: Rufous-legged Owl. Barring on Rufous-legged Owl underparts is more definitive than on Rustry-barred Owl. Rufous-legged Owl has dark brown upperparts; Rusty-barred Owl has reddish-brown upperparts.
Image by: 1) John Piercy 2) Marcel Holyoak  3) Claudio Timm


Owl, Spotted   Strix occidentalis  Found: western North America
Similar to: Barred Owl. Barred Owl has vertical stripes on underparts; Spotted Owl has spots on underparts.
Image by: 1) Jim Trailkill, USFWS  2) Len Blumin - California  3) OnceAndFutureLaura  4) John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS  - California
3) Strix occidentalis caurina


Owl, Spotted Wood-  Strix seloputo  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
The Spotted Wood-Owl has dark upperparts with white spots; rufous-tawny facial disk; light underparts with dark barring; dark eyes, bill.
Similar to: Mottled Wood-Owl. Spotted Wood-Owl has more distinct facial disk than Mottled Wood-Owl.
Image by: 1) Hyashi Haka - Malaysia  2) Naturelly - Singapore


Owl, Tawny  Strix aluco  Found: Europe, Asia 
The Tawny Owl has gray or brown upperparts; pale underparts with dark streaks and bars; dark eyes; white shoulder marks.
Image by: 1) bartbblom - Netherlands  2) KM_Hansche   3) Chrumps 
1) Juvenile


Owl, Ural  Strix uralensis  Found: Europe, Asia
The Ural Owl has pale plumage with darker streaks; dark eyes; yellow bill.
Image by:   1, 2, 3) Sergey Yeliseev  4) Hans Hillewaert - Belgium





Back to Top