Sunday, April 23

Tawny fish owl

   ›      ›   Tawny fish owl - Ketupa flavipes

The tawny fish owl (Ketupa flavipes) is a typical owl belonging to the family Strigidae.

The tawny fish owl species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, south and east China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Taiwan (China). These owl species inhabit remote wilderness with little disturbance. These owls are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Tawny Fish Owl Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Tawny fish owl - Overview

  • Scientific name: Ketupa flavipes
  • Species author: (Hodgson, 1836)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cultrunguis Flavipes Hodgson, 1836
  • Family: Strigidae › Strigiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Tawny fish owl, Chinese: 黄腿渔鸮, French: Kétoupa roux, German: Himalajafischuhu, Spanish: Búho pescador leonado, Russian: Гималайский рыбный филин, Japanese: ウオミミズク
  • Other names: Tawny Fish-Owl
  • Distribution: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, south and east China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Taiwan (China)
  • Diet and feeding habits: fish, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals, large insects
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The tawny fish owl (Ketupa flavipes) is closely related to Ketupa ketupu and Ketupa zeylonensis.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The tawny fish owl (Ketupa flavipes) is a large owl, measuring 50 to 55 cm in length and weighing 2000 to 2650 grams.

These tawny fish owl species have prominent horizontal ear-tufts with tousled appearance. The facial disc is orange brown with ill-defined dark border. The crown and the upperparts are orange-reddish brown.

There are broad, blackish markings and streaks on the central part of the feathers. Two-thirds of the tarsi have feathers. The feet are greenish-yellow with greyish talons. The bill is pale gray at the base and its distal part is grayish black.

The underparts are pale rufous brown with vertical streaks. The prominent eyes have yellow irises. Their call is a deep “whoo-hoo” and cat-like "meow" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Tawny fish owl - Ketupa flavipes
Birds of India - Image of Tawny fish owl - Ketupa flavipes by Koshy Koshy

Birds of India - Photo of Tawny fish owl - Ketupa flavipes
Indian birds - Picture of Tawny fish owl - Ketupa flavipes by

Indian birds - Image of Tawny fish owl - Ketupa flavipes
Birds of India - Photo of Tawny fish owl - Ketupa flavipes by

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The tawny fish owl species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, south and east China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Taiwan (China).

In India, these tawny fish owl species are distributed in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, northern West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

In China, these tawny owl species are distributed in the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, Anhui, Hubei, Henan, Shaanxi and Jiangsu.

Ecosystem and habitat

These tawny fish owl species are moderately forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 1500 meters.

The natural ecosystems of these tawny owl species includes tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, wooded ravines, temperate forests, tropical and subtropical swamps, stream banks, permanent freshwater marshes, broadleaf forests near water sources, pools, rivers, streams and creeks.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these tawny fish owl species is mostly fish. Crabs, shrimps, crayfish, fish, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, pheasants, ducks, small mammals and large insects are their primary food.

These tawny owls usually swoop down to the water to capture fish and crustaceans from the surface. Sometimes they have been observed to wade in the water while hunting.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these tawny fish owl species in the western Himalayan ranges is from November to February. The breeding season of these owl species is from December to February in northeast India. They are highly territorial during the breeding season.

These owl species nest in large holes in river banks and ravines, caves and crevices in rocks, cliffs and abandoned nests of raptors and eagles. The typical clutch has two eggs. Sometimes only one egg is laid.

Migration and movement patterns

These tawny fish owl species are non-migrant resident birds.

Post breeding, the juvenile owls may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the tawny fish owl (Ketupa flavipes) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these owl species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be very rare and uncommon. The generation length is 5.7 years. Their distribution size is about 7,720,000 sq.km.

The tawny fish owl (Ketupa flavipes) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Habitat loss and trapping for pet trade are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these owl species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the owl species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Evaluated’ for the tawny fish owl (Ketupa flavipes) and listed in Appendix II.
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Ketupa flavipes
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Strigiformes
Family:Strigidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Ketupa
Species:K. flavipes
Binomial name:Ketupa flavipes
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bubo_flavipes_-Jim_Corbett_National_Park,_Uttarakhand,_India-8.jpg (cropped)
Image author: Koshy Koshy | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 4/23/17
2.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tawny_Fish_Owl.jpg (cropped)
Image author: Jayanth Sharma | License: CC BY 3.0
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fisch-Uhu.jpg (cropped)
Image author: Hans Stieglitz | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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