Mottled wood owl

   ›      ›   Mottled wood owl - Strix ocellata

The mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata) is a large owl belonging to the family, Strigidae.

The mottled wood owl species are endemic to India. These species are typical owls and lack "ear" tufts. There are three recognized subspecies of these owls.

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

Appearance, physical description and identification

The mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata) is a large typical owl, measuring 40 to 50 cm in length and weighing 700 to 800 grams. Both the sexes look alike. They are nocturnal and roost in the day, usually in pairs or in small family groups.

These mottled wood owls have distinctive, well developed facial disc, extending equally above and below the eyes. The facial disc is whitish with concentric, fine, black barring and random rufous orange mottling. They lack "ear" tufts.

The upperparts of the mottled wood owl species are grayish with rufous-brown and gray mottling and vermiculation. The chin is whitish. There is narrow black and white barring in the medium-sized tail. The underparts are whitish with black barring.

The curved beak is black. The irises are reddish brown and the eyelids are coral-red. The tarsi and toes are feathered in adults and are bare in juveniles. Their call is a loud, quavering, eerie “chuhua-aa” sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Mottled wood owl - Strix ocellata
Birds of India - Image of Mottled wood owl - Strix ocellata by Challiyan

Birds of India - Photo of Mottled wood owl - Strix ocellata
Indian birds - Picture of Mottled wood owl - Strix ocellata by Bagavath G

Indian birds - Image of Mottled wood owl - Strix ocellata
Birds of India - Photo of Mottled wood owl - Strix ocellata by Sjahanmi

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These mottled wood owl species are endemic to India. Unconfirmed reports of their sightings were reported from Myanmar and Pakistan.

The mottled wood owl nominate subspecies S. o. ocellata is distributed in peninsular India. The subspecies S. o. grandis is distributed in the states of Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra and parts of Rajasthan.

The subspecies S. o. grisescens is distributed in the states south of the base of Himalayas, including Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Ecosystem and habitat

These mottled wood owl species have moderate forest dependence. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters.

The artificial ecosystems of these mottled wood owl species include agricultural lands, pasture lands, rural gardens, plantations, urban parks and other urban areas.

The natural ecosystems of these species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, wooded plains, trees with dense foliage, tropical and subtropical dry shrublands and dry savanna.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these mottled wood owl species is mostly rodents. Rats, mice, palm squirrels, small birds, crabs, lizards and large insects are their primary food.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these mottled wood owl species is from November to April in peninsular India. The laying season is during february and March in northern India. These owl species are monogamous.

These mottled wood owl species nest in natural hollows and holes in trees. The nest is not lined. In rare cases they have been observed to nest in abandoned stick nests of large birds. The typical clutch contains two or three creamy-white ovoid eggs. The female incubates the eggs for about 30-32 days.

Migration and movement patterns

The mottled wood owl species are non-migratory 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.

Mottled wood owl - Overview

  • Scientific name: Strix ocellata
  • Species author: (Lesson, 1839)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Syrnium ocellatum Lesson, 1839, Bulaca ocellata
  • Family: Strigidae › Strigiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Mottled wood owl, Chinese: 白领林鸮, French: Chouette ocellée, German: Mangokauz, Spanish: Cárabo ocelado, Russian: Манговая неясыть, Japanese: インドモリフクロウ, Tamil: Pooripulli Aandhai
  • Other names: Mottled Wood-Owl
  • Distribution: endemic to India
  • Diet and feeding habits: rodents, small birds, lizards, large insects, crabs
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The three recognized subspecies of mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata) are: Strix ocellata ocellata (Lesson, 1839), Strix ocellata grisescens Koelz, 1950 and Strix ocellata grandis Koelz, 1950.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these owl species is reported to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be uncommon to scarce. The generation length is 9.6 years. Its distribution size is about 2,790,000

The mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata) 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. The ongoing habitat destruction 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 mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata) and listed in Appendix II.
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Strix ocellata
Species:S. ocellata
Binomial name:Strix ocellata
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Challiyan | License: CC BY-SA 2.5
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Bagavath G | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Sjahanmi , Shah Jahan | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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