Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Near Threatened

Chestnut-backed Owlet (Glaucidium castanotum)


French: Chevêchette à dos marron German: Kastanienmantel-Zwergkauz Spanish: Mochuelo de Ceilán
Other common names: Sri Lanka Chestnut-backed Owlet

Athene castanotus


, 1851,

Sri Lanka


This and some other Old World owlet species placed in genus Taenioglaux by some recent authors#R#R. Present species possibly closest to G. radiatum; although both present in Sri Lanka, they occupy different habitats. Formerly treated as a race of either G. cuculoides or G. radiatum. Specific name previously given as castanonotum, but this spelling, and the date of publication, recently shown to be erroneous#R#R#R. Monotypic.


Sri Lanka.

Descriptive notes

17–19 cm; c. 100 g. Small owlet easily recognized by dark greyish breast with narrow white barring and bright chestnut upperparts with rufous barring; irides... read more


Short series (4–9 notes per phrase) of far-carrying “krrraw” notes; notes... read more


Confined mostly to forests of wet zone, from lowlands to c. 1950 m; said to occur in dense forest... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly insects; also mice, lizards and small birds; recorded eating a frog, and reported to catch geckos on tree trunks. Takes... read more


Very little information. Lays from Mar–May; nests in natural tree cavity or in nest hole built by woodpecker or barbet; clutch... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Restricted-range species: present in Sri Lanka EBA. Uncommon; formerly fairly common in S half of... 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., Bonan, A. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Chestnut-backed Owlet (Glaucidium castanotum). 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 16 December 2019).