Family Barn-owls (Tytonidae)

Least Concern

Eastern Grass-owl (Tyto longimembris)


French: Effraie de prairie German: Graseule Spanish: Lechuza patilarga
Other common names: Australasian Grass-owl

S[trix] Longimembris


, 1839,

the Nilgiris, near Coonoor, India


Closely related to T. capensis, with which often considered conspecific. Variation within species poorly understood, owing to rarity of specimens from whole range. Race pithecops sometimes included in chinensis, but appears to be valid. Of several other forms previously separated subspecifically, walleri (from Sulawesi, C Lesser Sundas and N & E Australia), maculosa (SW Australia) and oustaleti (New Caledonia and, at least formerly, Fiji) now regarded as synonyms of nominate, although Australian walleri perhaps warrants recognition on basis of plumage differences and sexual dimorphism; SE China (Guangxi Zhuang and Guangdong) population proposed as race melli, but better merged with chinensis; chinensis itself sometimes included in pithecops, but probably better retained as separate race; baliem (from Baliem Valley, in WC New Guinea) sometimes recognized, but barely distinguishable from papuensis and here subsumed within it. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. l. longimembris (Jerdon, 1839) – India, S Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, NW Thailand#R and Vietnam; Sulawesi, Tukangbesi Is (Kaledupa), Flores, Sumba#R and N & E Australia; New Caledonia, possibly still Fiji.
  • T. l. chinensis E. J. O. Hartert, 1929 – E & SE China (SE Yunnan to Hubei and Shandong) and N Vietnam.
  • T. l. pithecops (Swinhoe, 1866) – Taiwan.
  • T. l. amauronota (Cabanis, 1872) – Philippines.
  • T. l. papuensis E. J. O. Hartert, 1929 – WC New Guinea (Baliem Valley) and E New Guinea (C & SE ranges, Huon Peninsula).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 32–36 cm, 265–375 g (Australia), 360 g (Philippines); female 35–38 cm, 320–450 g (Australia), 582 g (Philippines); wingspan 112 cm. Medium-sized... read more


    In Asia noted to produce screech similar to that made by T. alba, but generally... read more


    Grassland, both tall grass jungle and open grassland, paperbark (Melaleuca) savanna,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Specialized rodent-hunter in some areas; pellets collected at nests in NW Thailand consisted mostly of remains of murid rodents; in... read more


    Oct–Mar, mostly Oct–Dec, in India, but once Jul; Sept–Jan in China and Philippines; May–Jun in Papua New Guinea;... read more


    Generally sedentary throughout much of range, with some post-breeding dispersal of juveniles.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Rare to very rare throughout most of range, but can be locally common in undisturbed areas or during rodent plagues (e.g.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Bruce, M.D. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Eastern Grass-owl (Tyto longimembris). 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 21 February 2020).