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Andaman Masked Owl
Andaman masked owl
Information
Range southern Andaman Islands, an archipelago between India and Myanmar, in the Bay of Bengal.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Strigiformes
Family Tytonidae
Genus Tyto
Species Tyto deroepstorffi

The Andaman masked owl (Tyto deroepstorffi), is a species of barn owl endemic to the southern Andaman Islands, an archipelago between India and Myanmar, in the Bay of Bengal. Regarded by some authors as a subspecies of the common barn owl (Tyto alba), it is recognized by others as a species in its own right.

Taxonomy

Some authors consider this bird to be a subspecies of the barn owl (Tyto alba), the eastern barn owl (Tyto javanica), or the western barn owl (Tyto detorta), but König, in his Owls of the World, recognizes it as a distinct species; one distinguishing feature is that it lacks the greyish veil, speckled with black and white, that all other races of Tyto alba possess.

Description

The Andaman masked owl grows to a length of between 30 and 36 cm (12 and 14 in), with a wing of around 26 cm (10.2 in) and a tail of 11 cm (4.3 in). It is almost uniformly dark reddish brown above, with some speckling of buffish-orange. The facial disc is pale reddish-buff with a distinctive orange-brown margin. The eyes are blackish and the beak creamy-white. The breast is golden-brown with blackish spots, paling towards the belly, which is whitish. The legs are fully feathered to near the feet. The toes are greyish-pink and the claws purplish-grey. The voice has been described as a rather high-pitched, short, rasping, descending shriek which terminates abruptly and is repeated several times.

Distribution and Habitat

The Andaman masked owl is known only from the southern Andaman Islands. It occurs on the coastal plain, in fields and gardens with trees, and in human settlements. It is not thought to be migratory.

Ecology

Little is known of the habits of this owl but they are likely to be similar to those of other related species. It is nocturnal, roosting during the day and emerging at dusk. It feeds on small rodents, and the bones of mice and rats have been found in regurgitated pellets beneath roosting places. It probably nests in cavities but details of its breeding habits are not known.

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