Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Buffy Fish-owl (Ketupa ketupu)


French: Kétoupa malais German: Sundafischuhu Spanish: Búho pescador malayo
Other common names: Malay Fish-owl

Strix Ketupu


, 1821,



Probably closest to K. flavipes, the two replacing each other geographically. See also K. zeylonensis. When species placed in genus Bubo, subspecies name minor becomes unavailable, and replacement name buettikoferi then used. Race aagaardi intergrades with nominate ketupu, and pageli is possibly only a colour variant; both are sometimes included within nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • K. k. aagaardi (Neumann, 1935) – S Assam and West Bengal#R to S Thailand and Vietnam.
  • K. k. ketupu (Horsfield, 1821) – Malay Peninsula, Riau Archipelago, Sumatra, Bangka, Belitung, Java, Bali, and Borneo (except NW).
  • K. k. minor Büttikofer, 1896 – Nias I, off W Sumatra.
  • K. k. pageli (Neumann, 1935) – NW Borneo.
  • Descriptive notes

    40–48 cm; 1028–2100 g. Smallest fish-owl. Facial disc pale buff, with white eyebrows; upperparts buff, streaked with dark brown, feathers edged with pale rufous;... read more


    Loud “kootookookootook...”, ringing “pof pof pof”, and musical “to-... read more


    Forest bordering streams, rivers, and lakes; also disturbed forest, trees beside rice fields and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly fish; also frogs, crustaceans, reptiles, large aquatic insects, small mammals (rats, mice) and birds; once a tortoise; also carrion... read more


    Lays Dec–May, mainly Jan–Apr; Jul–Apr in Malay Peninsula. Nest in cavity of large tree, or in tree fork, or in old raptor... read more


    Resident. Vagrant found on Cocos (Keeling) Is, Indian Ocean, some 1050 km outside normal range.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Status poorly known; uncommon in Thailand; locally uncommon to more or less common in Malay Peninsula and SE Asia; common... 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). Buffy Fish-owl (Ketupa ketupu). 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 22 November 2019).