Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Desert Tawny Owl (Strix hadorami)


French: Chouette de Butler German: Fahlkauz Spanish: Cárabo árabe

Strix hadorami

Kirwan et al.

, 2015,

Lower Wadi Kelt (=Wadi Al-Qelt/Wadi Qilt), northeast of Jerusalem, Israel/Palestinian Territories (31º 50’ N, 35º24’ E).


Probably closely related to S. aluco. Formerly treated as conspecific with latter, but clearly different in plumage, eye colour and vocal patterns, and in ecology, as well as DNA. Recent genetic and morphological analyses have revealed that the type specimen of S. butleri—the geographical provenance of which is open to doubt—differs significantly from all other specimens previously ascribed to this species, indicating (despite the lack of vocal data definitively linked to the same population as the type) that two species are involved, principally because the degree of molecular differentiation is close to that in other taxa of Strix traditionally recognized as species, which led to populations of this species from S Oman to the Levant and E Egypt, which share the same morphology and vocalizations, being described as a separate species, Desert Tawny Owl S. hadorami#R#R. Monotypic.


E & S Israel, Jordan, Sinai Peninsula, Red Sea mountains (E Egypt and NE Sudan), and patchily in Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen and S Oman).

Descriptive notes

30–35 cm; wingspan 95–98 cm; c. 140–284 g. Resembles S. aluco in proportions and plumage pattern, but latter is darker and larger, with dark brown... read more


Mainly vocalizes early in year (Feb–Apr), when may even call by day; although heard in most... read more


Rocky gorges or canyons in semi-desert and desert, usually with water source nearby; also near... read more

Food and feeding

Rodents such as gerbils (Gerbillus), jirds (Meriones crassus), spiny mice (Acomys russatus) and shrews; also... read more


Mainly Mar–Aug; egg-laying in Arabia is probably between early Feb and late Apr and season starts in Feb in Egypt. Nest in cavity or... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Israeli population tentatively estimated at 200 pairs in late 1980s and perhaps c. 3000 pairs on Arabian Peninsula, 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. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Desert Tawny Owl (Strix hadorami). 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 14 December 2019).