Brown hawk-owl (Brown boobook)

   ›      ›   Brown hawk-owl (Brown boobook) - Ninox scutulata

The brown hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata) belongs to the family of owlets and owls, the Strigidae.

The brown hawk-owl species is distributed in Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, China and Hong Kong. These hawk-owl species are undergoing decline due to ecosystem degradation and conversion. These hawk-owls are polytypic species.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Brown Hawk-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 brown hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata) is a medium-sized hawk-owl, measuring 25 to 35 cm in length and weighing 170 to 220 grams.

These hawk-owl species have dark brown round head. The lack of ear tufts gives them hawk-like appearance. The facial disc is not distinct. There is a whitish patch on the forehead. They have brownish upperparts and a long barred tail.

The underparts of the hawk-owl are whitish with bold reddish brown streaks and blotches. The undertail is pale gray with darker bars. The undertail coverts are white.

The bill is small and pale gray. The irises are bright yellow. The legs and feet are yellowish. The call of these hawk-owl species is a repeated mellow, hooting "whoo-wup..whoo-wup" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Brown hawk-owl - Ninox scutulata
1.Birds of India - Image of Brown hawk-owl - Ninox scutulata by M.Nishimura

Birds of India - Photo of Brown hawk-owl - Ninox scutulata
2.Indian birds - Picture of Brown hawk-owl - Ninox scutulata by Michael Gillam

Indian birds - Image of Brown hawk-owl - Ninox scutulata
3.Birds of India - Photo of Brown hawk-owl - Ninox scutulata by Mprasannak

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The brown hawk-owls are distributed in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines.

The brown hawk-owl nominate subspecies N. s. scutulata is distributed in southern Malay Peninsula and Indonesia (Riau Archipelago, Sumatra and Bangka islands). The subspecies N. s. javanensis is distributed in western Java (Indonesia).

The hawk-owl subspecies N. s. borneensis is distributed in Borneo (Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia) and north Natuna Islands (Indonesia). The subspecies N. s. palawanensis is distributed in Palawan Island (Philippines).

The brown hawk-owl subspecies N. s. rexpimenti is distributed in Nicobar Islands (India). The subspecies N. s. isolata is distribute in Car Nicobar Island (India). The subspecies N. s. hirsuta is distributed in southern India and Sri Lanka.

The hawk-owl subspecies N. s. lugubris is distributed in northern and central India, including west Assam. The subspecies N. s. burmanica occurs in northeast India, Myanmar, Thailand, northern Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, southern China and Hong Kong.

Ecosystem and habitat

These brown hawk-owl species have moderate forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 1500 meters. The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include rural gardens, pasturelands, agricultural fields, plantations and urban areas.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these hawk-owl species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, foothill forests, primary lowland rainforests, tropical and subtropical moist mangroves, scrublands and dry shrublands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of this brown hawk-owl consists mainly of insects. Large insects, small mammals, birds, frogs and lizards are their primary food. These species are highly nocturnal.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these hawk-owls is from March to June in India. The laying season is during March and April in Sumatra. These species are monogamous. They nest in tree holes and the clutch contains three to five white eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

These hawk-owl species are non-migratory resident birds. They disperse locally after breeding. The populations in higher altitudes descend to the lower levels during winter.

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

Brown hawk-owl - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Ninox scutulata
  • Species author: (Raffles, 1822)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Strix scutulata Raffles, 1822
  • Family: Strigidae › Strigiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Brown hawk-owl, Chinese: 鹰鸮, French: Ninoxe hirsute, German: Falkenkauz, Spanish: Nínox pardo, Russian: Себусская иглоногая сова бубук, Japanese: アオバズク, Indonesian: Pungguk Coklat
  • Other names: Brown boobook, Brown Hawk Owl
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, China, Hong Kong
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, small mammals, birds, amphibians
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the brown hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be decreasing.

In most of its range, this hawk-owl species is reported to be common to uncommon. The generation length is 4.1 years. Its distribution size is about 15,300,000

Habitat alteration and destruction, deforestation, hunting for food and capture of adults and juveniles for pet-trade are the main threats that are endangering the survival of these hawk-owl species.

IUCN and CITES status

The brown hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata) 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 IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the 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 ‘Not Evaluated’ for the brown hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Ninox scutulata
Species:N. scutulata
Binomial name:Ninox scutulata
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The brown hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata) is closely related to the northern boobook (Ninox japonica), chocolate boobook (Ninox randi) and Hume's hawk-owl (Ninox obscura).
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1.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: M.Nishimura | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Michael Gillam | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 3/2/18
3.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Mprasannak | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
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