Order: Strigiformes

Family: Strigidae

Scientific name: Strix ocellata, Lesson, 1839

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Mottled Wood Owl is an endemic bird found in India especially in Peninsular India.


The Mottled Wood Owl is very large and measures 40 to 50 cm in length and 700 to 800 grams in weight. The upperparts are greyish with rufous-brown and gray mottling. The chin is white. There is narrow black and white barring in the medium-sized tail. The under parts are whitish with black barring. The curved beak is black. The irises are reddish brown and the eyelids are coral-red. They 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. There are no ear tufts. Both the sexes look similar.


The diet of Mottled Wood Owl is mostly rodents. Rats, mice, palm squirrels, small birds, crabs, lizards and large insects are their primary food. They are nocturnal and forage during night time solitarily or rarely in pairs. During day time, they roost in trees usually in pairs or in small family groups.


The habitat of Mottled Wood Owl species include agricultural lands, pasture lands, rural gardens, plantations, urban parks, wooded countries with dense foliage, groves, lowland forests, and other urban areas. It is an endemic bird of India and it is distributed in the  peninsular region of the union.

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season of Mottled Wood Owl species is from November to April in peninsular India and February to March in northern India. They are monogamous. More frequent duet calls are made by male and female during that time. The male calls one or two times followed by the female’s shorter and less  quivering version. They nest in unlined natural hollows and holes in trees. Sometimes abandoned nests of large birds are also chosen by them. Normally 2-3 white eggs are laid. Both parent birds do the incubation of 30-32 days and neonatal care.


The call is a loud, quavering “chuhua-aa- chuhua-aa” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo).
  • Brown Wood Owl (Strix eptogrammica).
  • Himalayan Owl (Strix nivicolum).
  • Strix ocellata ocellata of peninsular India.
  • Strix ocellata grandis of Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
  • Strix ocellata grisescens of the states south of the base of Himalayas including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh,  Jharkhand and Bihar.

Migratory Behaviour

Common Resident