Lesser Masked Owl (Tyto sororcula)

Lesser Masked Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Tytonidae | [latin] Tyto sororcula | [authority] Sclater, 1883 | [UK] Lesser Masked Owl | [FR] Petite Effraie | [DE] Molukkeneule | [ES] Lechuza de las Tanimbar | [NL] Molukse Kerkuil


Monotypic species


The genus Tyto includes all barn-owls (family Tytonidae) except for the bay-owls (subfamily Phodilinae, genus Phodilus) – that is, the true barn-owls, the grass-owls and the masked-owls collectively making up the subfamily Tytoninae. They are darker on the back than the front, usually an orange-brown colour, the front being a paler version of the back or mottled, although there is considerable variation even amongst species. Tyto owls have a divided, heart-shaped facial disc, and lack the ear-like tufts of feathers found in many other owls. Tyto owls tend to be larger than Bay-owls.

Physical charateristics

Medium-small fawn and brown owl. Dark border to facial disk. Upperparts brownish or blackish mottled white. Underparts whitish with dark spotting on sides. Black iris. Pale, bristled legs. Similar spp. Common Barn Owl T. alba is generally larger, speckled rather than mottled above, whiter below with more prominent pale facial disc. Voice Undocumented, but presumably hisses or screeches like other members of the genus

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 29 cm size max.: 31 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Australasia : South Moluccas. Tyto sororcula is known from the island of Buru (and probably Seram) in South Maluku and Yamdena and Larat in the Tanimbar group, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia


Recent and historical records derive from primary and selectively-logged lowland evergreen forest. One collector was brought two live birds caught in holes in limestone cliffs on Buru


No data

Feeding habits

No data


global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as probably rare
Most records are of specimens collected in the late 19th or early 20th centuries, and recent observations comprise one photographed individual (probably of this species) on Seram, and one observed on Yamdena. There is no information on numbers, and although it is described as “apparently rare”, it is probably often overlooked and consequently almost certainly more widespread and numerous than available records suggest. Nevertheless, it occurs in primary and selectively-logged lowland evergreen forest, a habitat that is being rapidly cleared from islands within its range by loggers and shifting cultivators. One collector was brought two live birds caught in holes in limestone cliffs on Buru, and this habitat type should be revisited and searched for the species
Lesser Masked Owl status Data Deficient


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Lesser Masked Owl distribution range map

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