Notes on Mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata)

The Mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata) is a huge species  of owl (40 – 48cm) which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent.

They are found in gardens and thin deciduous forests adjacent to dry thorn forests or farmland. The best place to see them in Gujarat is Gir National Park. I have encounterd this species at GIR and Rajpipla Forest areas regularly. This being one of my favorite owls I never miss an opportunity to photograph them.

Mottled wood owl is a earless owl (without ear tufts) with a white facial disk with concentric black barring and splashes of rufous. As the name suggests, it is mottled on its crown and upperparts with with reddish-brown and black.. The sexes are alike. The chin is white which is clearly visible when they start calling. The eyelid is orange and the iris is dark brown. The tail is barred narrowly in brown and black. The concentric barring on the face and mottled crown separate it from the Brown Wood Owl ( Strix leptogrammica).

There are three subspecies recognized and there are no sharp demarcations in their distributions. Race S. o. grisescens intergrades with nominate S. o. ocellata in N India (Ref: HBW 5, p. 197)

  • S. o. ocellata (Lesson, 1839) is found in southern India and is shorter winged in the males (333–338 mm) than grandis
    • 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.
    • Type Locality: Lesson, 1839, Pondicherry
    • Distribution: peninsular India.
  • S. o. grisescens Koelz, 1950 is found in northern India south of the Himalayas, west to Pakistan and east to Bihar. The markings are pale above and the males have a wing length of 338–346 mm
    • Original Description: (Koelz) 1950. American Museum Novitates, 1452, p. 4.
    • Type Locality: Adult male; Nischalaul(northeast of Gorakhpur), United Provinces, Northern India; February 5, 1947; W. Koelz, collector. Deposited in The AMNH
    • Distribution: from base of Himalayas in Pakistan S to about Rajasthan, and E to Bihar
  • S. o. grandis Koelz, 1950 from Gujarat is differentiated by the wing length of the males (360–372 mm)
    • Original Description: (Koelz) 1950. American Museum Novitates, 1452, p. 4.
    • Type Locality: Adult male; Sasan, Junagadh, Kathiwar, Western India, February 3, 1949; W. Koelz, collector. Deposited in The AMNH
    • Distribution: Saurashtra Peninsula, (Kathiwar)

Calls From

Some Images from my Gallery

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