Crested Owl (Lophostrix cristata)

Crested Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Lophostrix cristata | [authority] Daudin, 1800 | [UK] Crested Owl | [FR] Hibou huppe | [DE] Haubenkauz | [ES] Buho Corniblanco | [NL] Kuifuil


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Lophostrix are medium-sized, dark owls. They have long ear-tufts, almost but not quite as interwoven into the neck as the Maned Owl (Jubula lettii ) of Africa.
The genus contains one species in the Americas.

Physical charateristics

The Crested Owl exists a number of forms. The differences are in the depth of the basic colouring, not in the colouring itself.
In its Chocolate-brown form, the crown, facial disc and upper breast are deep chocolate-brown. The dark rim around facial disc is, in most cases, almost invisible, although some individuals have rufous facial disc. The forehead, eyebrows and ear-tufts are mostly white. They are dark chocolate-brown above, with white spots on the wing-coverts and the outer webs of the primary flight feathers. All of the flight feathers are barred with light and dark brown. The tail feathers are chocolate-brown with darker mottling. Below the upper breast is pale brownish with faint brown markings. The legs are feathered to the base of the digits. In its rufous-brown form it is generally light rufous-brown instead of dark chocolate.
The eyes are usually dark brown, although there are individuals with orange-yellow or deep yellow eyes. The bill is yellowish-horn to dark horn. The digits are light greyish-brown, terminating in talons that are dark horn with black tips.
There is much individual variability of the basic colour types, as well as noticeable geographic variations, giving rise to a number of subspecies.

Listen to the sound of Crested Owl

[audio: Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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Latin America : South Mexico through Amazonia


Its favoured habitat is lowland primary or secondary rain forest with undergrowth, up to about 1.500 meter.


Not a lot is known about the breeding biology of this species. It usually breeds either in the dry season or early in the wet season, apparently nesting in natural holes in old trees.

Feeding habits

The adult Crested Owls feed mostly on large insects, and occasionally small vertebrates. There is no detailed information on their hunting habits

Video Crested Owl


copyright: youtube


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The Crested Owl is found in Southern Mexico through the coastal parts of Central America to Venezuela. Also in Surinam, the Guianas, Amazonian Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia. Very rare in Suriname, only a few specimen collected.
Crested Owl status Least Concern


These owls are probably resident, but little is know about their movements.

Distribution map

Crested Owl distribution range map

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