Scientific name: Bubo zeylonensis / Ketupa zeylonensis

The brown fish owl (Bubo zeylonensis or Ketupa zeylonensis) is a species of owl that is part of the family known as typical owls, Strigidae, which contains most living owls. It inhabits the warm subtropical and humid tropical parts of continental Asia and some offshore islands. Of the four living species of fish owl, it is the most widely distributed, most common and best-studied.

It is a large species of owl, size ranging from 43-58 cm in length and the wingspan ranges from 125 – 140 cm. The weight of these owls varies considerably, but ranges from 1.0 kg to 2.5 kgs. Females are often larger and heavier than males.

The indistinct facial disc is tawny, with black shaft-streaks on individual feathers. Eyes are golden yellow, while the bill is pale greenish-grey and dusky on the upper ridge and tip. Ear-tufts are bushy and tousled.
Upper parts are pale chestnut-brown with broad, black shaft-streaks and brown cross-bars. The lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts are paler and have narrow shaft-streaks. Flight and tail feathers are dark brown, barred and tipped dusky-buff. The throat and fore neck are prominently white with dark shaft-streaks.
Under parts are pale fulvous with fine, wavy pale brown to rufous cross-bars and bold black shaft-streaks.

The Brown Fish Owl is semi-diurnal, roosting in large trees during the daytime and leaving well before sunset. They can often be seen in daylight, sometimes hunting, especially on cloudy days. They bathe frequently by wading into the shallows and ruffling their feathers before drying and carefully preening the plumage.

Brown Fish Owls feed mainly on fish, frogs and crabs, but will also take rodents, birds, reptiles and large beetles. Hunts by watching for prey from a perch overlooking water – such as a stump or rock on the edge or in the middle of a stream.

Breeding season is generally from November to March, mainly January and February. They will breed in abandoned stick nests of large birds, or a rock ledge near water or cleft of a rocky bank, or ruins of an old building. They may also nest in the cradle in a fork of a mature tree, such as mango or fig. The female lays one or two roundish, smooth white eggs.

It is declared as Least Concerned species by IUCN but this beauty is rarely seen and tops the list of all wildlifers when venturing on a safari!

Scroll to Top