Masked Owls north of Australia

To: "Goodfellow" <>, "birding Aus" <>
Subject: Masked Owls north of Australia
From: "Michael Todd" <>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 10:57:57 +1000
Hello Denise,

I had thought that the Melville Island form of the Masked Owl was supposed
to be a bit unusual in that it was supposed to be closer to eastern Masked
Owls in size and appearance than to northern ones. I haven't got access to
any details at hand but I'm sure they discussed it in HANZAB. Was the bird
that you held in the hand preserved, I assume it wasn't alive.

I think that there are still a lot of taxonomic difficulties in the Masked
Owl group. There area number of Masked Owl-like owls in Indonesia such as
the Sulawesi Owl, Minahassa Owl, Taliabu Owl and on the other side of New
Guinea the Manus Masked-owl. I only know about them from what I've read, but
I know that some authors have regarded them as forms of our Masked Owl.
While I haven't even seen photos of these birds let alone been looking for
them in Indonesia, it seems hard to believe that they are all the same as
our Masked Owl when they are so geographically removed.

I think that there is lots of scope for further research, as long as some
forest remains in Indonesia!

Along these lines, I would love to look for these owls sometime in the
distant future and would love to hear from anyone who has come across them
or knows of anything about them.


Mick Todd

Michael Todd
Tropical Savannas CRC
PO Box 780, Atherton, Qld, 4883
Phone- (07) 40918837

-----Original Message-----
 Behalf Of Goodfellow
Sent: Wednesday, 8 November 2000 8:35 PM
To: birding Aus
Subject: masked owls

Hello All
Even in the hand the pale form of Masked Owl and Barn Owl are similar.
The two birds I examined were of similar size (34 cm).  and build, and
both had dark grey-brown feet and lower legs.  While the talons were
larger than Barn Owl's the feet didn't appear much bigger.

Both were pure white and slightly spotted underneath.  Upperparts of the
Masked Owl were more heavily patterned with dark chocolate brown and
white markings, and larger white and tan spots..  Facial disks of Masked
Owl were rounder and slightly more heavily marked around the edge than
Barn Owl's.  The Masked Owl did have a much larger, more strongly hooked
beak and was more heavily coloured around the eye sockets.  Incidentally
this specimen was 'melvillensis' - I don't know how similar the Kimberley
bird is.  But neither that bird nor the dark form I saw  closely
resembled the Masked Owls illustrated in Pizzey.

Great sightings of Bush-hen recently with half a dozen running around the
reedbeds at Holmes Jungle.  I went back last Friday night for another
look with a friend and then found my key wouldn't open the gate.  The
locks have been recently changed so anyone with an old key be careful!

Denise Goodfellow (Lawungkurr Maralngurra)
Specialist Guide
Ph/fax 08 89818492
PO Box 39373

Parap Bookshop
2ndhand and new books
08 89813922

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