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.
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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