Family Barn-owls (Tytonidae)

Least Concern

Lesser Sooty-owl (Tyto multipunctata)


French: Effraie piquetée German: Fleckenrußeule Spanish: Lechuza moteada

Tyto tenebricosa multipunctata


, 1912,

Johnstone River, north Queensland, Australia


Closely related to T. tenebricosa, and commonly treated as conspecific, in part due to their genetic proximity#R#R. On basis of published information#R, however, present species differs in much smaller size (effect size for female wing −10.4; score 4); longest primary P7, not P8 (1); slightly greyer plumage (ns[1]); more heavily spotted upperparts (ns[1]); white breast with dark markings vs dark with white (2); vermiculations of wings and tail much heavier and arranged in distinct cross-bands (1); more extensively white bases of flight-feathers and secondary coverts, forming larger pale centre of underwing (1); sexual size dimorphism weaker (ns); different calls (although probably a function of smaller size) (1). Thus, here recognized as a separate species, although occurring between the ranges of the two races of T. tenebricosa; these two species have occasionally been separated in genus Megastrix. As recently as 1940, present species was considered not to differ even subspecifically from T. t. tenebricosa. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

NE Queensland (from Cedar Bay S to Paluma and inland to Windsor, Atherton and Evelyn Tablelands), in NE Australia.

Descriptive notes

32–38 cm; male 450 g (n = 1), female 540 g (n = 1); wingspan 86 cm. Plumage silvery and blackish, paler below, upperparts and wing coverts... read more


Calls similar to T. tenebricosa but higher-pitched, thinner and more penetrating, and... read more


Rainforest and wet eucalypt forest with mature trees that contain hollows. Occurs from sea-level to... read more

Food and feeding

Prey includes pygmy-possums and small gliders (Burramyidae/Petauridae) and small dasyurid marsupials; arboreal and particularly... read more


Nesting dates variable, depending on rainfall; eggs laid mostly Mar–May, but pairs can lay in any month; territorial... read more


Sedentary, within territory of usually c. 50–60 ha. Post-breeding dispersal of juveniles may... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Restricted-range species: present in Queensland Wet Tropics EBA. Considered Near Threatened from 1994–2000. Within... read more

Recommended citation

Bruce, M.D., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Lesser Sooty-owl (Tyto multipunctata). 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 18 February 2020).