Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Mottled Owl (Ciccaba virgata)


French: Chouette mouchetée German: Sprenkelkauz Spanish: Cárabo café

Syrnium virgatum


, 1849,

Bogotá, Colombia


Three N races (Mexico to W Panama) recently treated as forming a separate species, differing from S forms mainly in vocalizations, but also in plumage and in smaller size#R; further study required, including genetic analyses. W Colombian birds, sometimes separated as race minuscula, here placed in nominate. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. v. squamulata (Bonaparte, 1850) – Mexican Wood-owl – W Mexico (S Sonora to Guerrero and Guanajuato to Morelos).
  • C. v. tamaulipensis (J. C. Phillips, 1911) – NE Mexico (S Nuevo León and Tamaulipas).
  • C. v. centralis Griscom, 1929 – E & S Mexico (Veracruz and Oaxaca) to W Panama.
  • C. v. virgata (Cassin, 1849) – Mottled Owl – E Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, NW & N Venezuela and Trinidad.
  • C. v. macconnelli C. Chubb, 1916 – S & SE Venezuela and the Guianas.
  • C. v. superciliaris (Pelzeln, 1863) – NC & NE Brazil, and Amazonian Peru to Bolivia#R#R.
  • C. v. borelliana (A. W. Bertoni, 1901) – SE Brazil, E Paraguay and NE Argentina (Misiones).
  • Descriptive notes

    29–38 cm; 175–405 g; wingspan 84–91 cm. Occurs in light and dark morphs, found in drier and humid areas respectively. Light morph has brown facial disc with... read more


    Common territorial call a series of 3–6 deep, short, frog-like hoots, “gwho gwho gwho... read more


    Wide variety of forest and thickety edge: tropical rainforest, tropical dry lowland forest, pine-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Varied diet suggests opportunist: large insects such as beetles, cockroaches and grasshoppers; small mammals (Oryzomys fulvescens... read more


    Lays Feb–Apr in Central America (mainly late Mar in Guatemala), nest with eggs found in Jun in S Mexico (Oaxaca); lays Feb–May... read more


    Resident, with evidence that adults maintain same home range and territory for multiple seasons.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Rather widespread, and considered fairly common to common in some places; reportedly common in S Mexico in lowlands,... 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., Marks, J.S. & Boesman, P. (2019). Mottled Owl (Ciccaba virgata). 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 5 December 2019).