Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Brown Wood-owl (Strix leptogrammica)


French: Chouette leptogramme German: Malaienkauz Spanish: Cárabo oriental

Strix leptogrammica


, 1832,



Probably a species complex rather than a single species. N forms living in montane habitats (newarensis, ticehursti, caligata, laotiana) larger, with different vocalizations, likely to represent a separate, polytypic species; race bartelsi likewise vocally and morphologically distinct and living at higher elevations, probably also specifically distinct, as is the small, little-known niasensis (these treated as separate species but without full review of evidence in recent monograph#R); detailed analysis needed. In addition, Sri Lankan ochrogenys sometimes considered synonymous with indranee; chaseni possibly synonymous with nominate, but sometimes included in myrtha#R; myrtha and nyctiphasma perhaps doubtfully distinct from maingayi. Further races described are connectens (single specimen from C India), included in indranee; rileyi (S Thailand) in maingayi; and orientalis and shahensis, both treated as synonyms of ticehursti. Fourteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. newarensis (Hodgson, 1836) – Mountain Wood-owl – Himalayas, from Jammu and Kashmir E to NE India.
  • S. l. ticehursti Delacour, 1930 – N & C Myanmar E to SE China (NE to Anhui), S to N & W Thailand, N Laos and N Vietnam.
  • S. l. caligata (Swinhoe, 1863) – Hainan and Taiwan.
  • S. l. laotiana Delacour, 1926 – S Laos, C Vietnam (Annam), SE Thailand and Cambodia.
  • S. l. indranee Sykes, 1832 – peninsular India.
  • S. l. ochrogenys (A. O. Hume, 1873) – Sri Lanka.
  • S. l. maingayi (A. O. Hume, 1878) – S Myanmar, S Thailand and Malay Peninsula.
  • S. l. myrtha (Bonaparte, 1850) – Sumatra; reported also (presumably this race) from Mentawai Is, off W Sumatra.
  • S. l. nyctiphasma Oberholser, 1924 – Banyak Is, off W Sumatra.
  • S. l. chaseni Hoogerwerf & de Boer, 1947 – Belitung I, off SE Sumatra.
  • S. l. vaga Mayr, 1938 – N Borneo.
  • S. l. leptogrammica Temminck, 1832 – Brown Wood-owl – C & S Borneo.
  • S. l. niasensis (Salvadori, 1887) – Nias Wood-owl – Nias I, off W Sumatra.
  • S. l. bartelsi (Finsch, 1906) – Bartels's Wood-owl – Java.
  • Descriptive notes

    39–55 cm; 800–1100 g (nominate), 500–700 g (bartelsi), 970 g (newarensis, 1 male). Whitish to light rufous-brown facial disc with broad... read more


    Brief series of 3–4 short hoots, first ones very soft, last one longer and louder; also deep... read more


    Forest, usually dense and undisturbed, generally avoiding areas of human habitation: in N Indian... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small mammals, especially rodents but also some shrews, and Javan specimen contained remains of fruit bat (Cynopterus) in stomach... read more


    Lays Jan–Mar in S India and Sri Lanka; Feb–Apr in Himalayas; chick from nest in Singapore fledged in late Jan. Nest in cavity... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Uncommon throughout most of range in Indian Subcontinent, and rare and local in Bangladesh; possibly more common, or localy... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Brown Wood-owl (Strix leptogrammica). 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 17 June 2019).