Chestnut-backed Owlet (Glaucidium castanonotum)

Chestnut-backed Owlet

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Glaucidium castanonotum | [authority] Blyth, 1846 | [UK] Chestnut-backed Owlet | [FR] Chevechette a queue barree | [DE] Prachtkauz | [ES] Mochuelo de Ceilan | [NL] Kameroendwerguil


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Glaucidium castanonotum OR Sri Lanka


Members of the genus Glaucidium are very small and tiny owls. They have rounded heads without ear-tufts. Their eyes are yellow. In many species the talons are, in relation to their size, very powerful. The facial disc is not very distinct. Some species have a large dark patch with a pale border on each side of the nape of the neck, looking like false eyes. Many are partly diurnal and sing from exposed perches. These are mostly very tenacious in the hunt, and show little fear, even of approaching humans. Glaucidium is a worldwide genus, containing some 30 species. Most of the Asian species, and some of the African species show physical and behavioural differences that suggest they might be better placed in Athene, and DNA evidence suggests that there is only a distant relationship between the Old World Pygmy Owls and those of the New World.

Physical charateristics

The Chestnut-backed Owlet is small and stocky. The upperparts, scapulars and wing coverts are mainly chestnut brown, with dark barring. The underparts are white with blackish shaft-streaks. The facial disc is mainly brown and the eyes are yellow. There is a white neckband. Sexes are similar.

Listen to the sound of Chestnut-backed Owlet

[audio: Owlet.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 20 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Oriental Region : Sri Lanka


It occurs in dense wet forests of the lowlands and hills, also recorded in logged forests, rubber plantations, scrub and cultivation from the lowlands to 1950 m. It is shy and retiring; generally keeping to the canopy of large trees, and is therefore probably overlooked.


Eggs are laid during March-May. It nests in a hole in a tree, laying two eggs.

Feeding habits

It feeds mostly on insects but also takes lizards, small mammals and small birds

Video Chestnut-backed Owlet


copyright: Pieter de Groot Boersma


This species is listed as Near Threatened because there are some indications that it has a moderately small, fragmented range and population, which are declining owing to forest clearance.
Glaucidium castanonotum is endemic to Sri Lanka, where it is a rare resident. Whilst it may be more common than records suggest, its range has diminished dramatically since the 19th century when it was widespread in the lowlands of Sri Lanka to the outskirts of Colombo. Declines are thought to be continuing
Chestnut-backed Owlet status Near Threatened


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Chestnut-backed Owlet distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *