Family Barn-owls (Tytonidae)

Least Concern

Ashy-faced Owl (Tyto glaucops)


French: Effraie d’Hispaniola German: Hispaniolaschleiereule Spanish: Lechuza de La Española
Other common names: Ashy-faced Barn-owl

Str[ix] glaucops


, 1853,

Jamaica; error = Hispaniola


Until recently was considered conspecific with T. alba. Following colonization of Hispaniola in late 1970s by T. a. pratincola, latter found not to interbreed with nominate glaucops, and separation as two species now widely accepted. Several recent works consider nominate glaucops part of a natural group including insularis and nigrescens (last two forms possibly comprising a separate species, T. insularis, and treated as such in some references#R#R); others place insularis and nigrescens in T. alba; extinct form †cavatica (Puerto Rico), possibly extant as recently as 1912, sometimes treated as a separate species#R. Limited available data suggest there are similarities to small island races of T. alba that may also warrant treatment as separate species. Colour characters of race nigrescens may not be constant, rendering this taxon perhaps untenable. Three extant subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. g. glaucops (Kaup, 1853) – Ashy-faced Owl – Hispaniola, including I de la Tortue.
  • T. g. cavatica Wetmore, 1920 – Puerto Rico.
  • T. g. nigrescens (Lawrence, 1878) – Dominica, in NC Lesser Antilles.
  • T. g. insularis (Pelzeln, 1872) – Lesser Antilles Barn-owl – St Vincent, Bequia, Union, Carriacou and Grenada, in S Lesser Antilles.
  • Descriptive notes

    27–33 cm; male 260–346 g, female 465–535 g. Nominate race has distinctive silvery-grey facial disc, dark greyish-brown upperparts with light brown and dusky... read more


    A hissing cry, prefaced by a series of higher-pitched ratchety clicks and a c. 2–3 seconds... read more


    Open woodland, forest, dry to moist broad-leaved forest, scrub and caves; also agricultural areas,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small mammals and birds but also reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Large sample of prey items (n = 3827) from... read more


    Eggs in Sept and nestlings in Apr on Dominica; main season Jan–Jun on Hispaniola, where nestlings in May/Jun. Natural cavity nest... read more


    Sedentary; extent of post-breeding dispersal unknown.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Restricted-range species: present in Hispaniola EBA. Widespread and locally common on Hispaniola, but suspected to have... read more

    Recommended citation

    Bruce, M.D., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Ashy-faced Owl (Tyto glaucops). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 August 2019).