Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-legged Owl (Strix rufipes)


French: Chouette masquée German: Rotfußkauz Spanish: Cárabo bataraz

Strix rufipes

P. P. King

, 1827,

Port Famine, Straits of Magellan, Chile


Thought probably most closely related to S. hylophila and S. chacoensis, all having vocalizations very different from other Strix, and possibly generically distinct. Usually considered to include S. chacoensis as a race, but differs in plumage, morphology and voice. Race sanborni described from single immature specimen, perhaps not acceptable. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. r. rufipes P. P. King, 1827 – from C Chile and extreme WC Argentina S to Tierra del Fuego.
  • S. r. sanborni Wheeler, 1938 – Chiloe I, off SC Chile.
  • Descriptive notes

    33–38 cm; c. 350 g, females larger than males. Compact, with large round head. Facial disc rusty with faint concentric dusky rings, white lores and eyebrows; upperparts... read more


    A series of 10–12 loud, somewhat nasal and high-pitched notes “ú AU ú... read more


    Dense, moist forest with mosses and lichens, and older secondary growth; more often found in old-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Specializes on small arboreal mammals, e.g. arboreal mouse (Irenomys tarsalis), long-tailed mouse (Oryzomys longicaudatus... read more


    Poorly known. Laying probably from Oct. Nest usually in tree hole, occasionally in old raptor nest, possibly rarely on ground beneath cover... read more


    Resident. Immatures may wander; recorded from Falkland Is (has possibly bred), and 1 report from... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Status uncertain, owing to rather elusive habits. 1986 report described species as once common, but appearing to be... 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. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Rufous-legged Owl (Strix rufipes). 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 11 December 2019).