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Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide
Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide

* Book Type:

Publisher: Firefly Books

Edition Notes: Second Edition
Author Statement: Heimo Mikkola
Audience: Trade
Specs: full color photographs, maps, index
Pages: 528
Trim Size: 6 3/4" X 9 1/2" X 1 7/16"
Language code 1: eng
Publication Date: 20131129
Copyright Year: 2014
Price: Select Below


Please Note: Only online orders placed from within Canada or the USA are accepted using the Add to Cart button

Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide

The superlative identification guide now revised with 19 additional owl species.

The superlative identification guide now revised with 19 additional owl species.

Praise for the first edition:
"[An] important book. Recommended for most libraries -- good value and quality for the price."

"A spectacular book."
--Library Journal, Best Reference of 2012

"A valued addition as a reference for bird enthusiasts and libraries."
--Science Books and Film

Owls of the World, second edition, is the ultimate photographic resource dedicated to the identification of these charismatic birds of prey. The new edition is packed with spectacular photography of 268 species of owls from all over the world -- 19 more species than the original book. Many of the photos are of highly elusive species that are very rarely caught on camera.

The photos are accompanied by detailed text describing:

  • Identification notes
  • Habitat
  • Population status
  • Voice
  • Food
  • Distribution
  • Accurate range maps
  • Similar species.

The photographic coverage includes plumages and subspecies which promotes differentiation between species, making this the definitive work on owl identification. Similar-looking ("confusion") species are included and owls are shown as adults from a perspective that clearly shows markings that assist in identification.

For birders, naturalists, photographers, researchers and any fan of these birds, Owls of the World is the definitive work on species identification as well as a comprehensive encyclopedia for reference and reading.


Heimo Mikkola is the world's best-known owl expert. Originally from Finland, he has traveled to 128 countries in the course of his 40-year research career in search of nocturnal birds.



In late 2009, I was approached by Jim Martin from Bloomsbury Publishing with a view to writing this new book on the world's owls, then more than 25 years after the publication of my own Owls of Europe, which is still available (as an e-book) from the same publisher. Since 1983, much has been published on owls and owl biology, including an excellent survey Owls of the Northern Hemisphere by Karel Voous (1988) and Owls of the World by James Duncan (2003), as well as the second edition of a comprehensive book on the taxonomy, distribution and identification of the owls of the world (Konig, Weick and Becking 2008). For the present work, all of these books have been widely consulted and the distribution maps are largely based on those in the last-mentioned book, with the kind permission of the publisher.

The majority of the world's owls, 68 percent, live in the Southern Hemisphere, the remaining 32 percent occurring in the Northern Hemisphere. Most are forest-adapted birds, and thus feeling the pressures of worldwide deforestation trends. An estimated 75 percent of the nearly 270 surviving species of owl are associated with dense and undisturbed forests, the very habitat that is nowadays being destroyed at ever-increasing rates. Deforestation, usually in order to make way for agriculture, has been underway for decades, Brazil and Indonesia being the hotspots. It was once widely believed that the voices of owls emanating from the dark forests were an omen of impending ill fortune, if not death. Perhaps we should now realise that it is, in fact, the increasing absence of owl voices that should be taken as a sign of impending ill fortune for the human species. In logged and silent forests the future will be a stressful one for the owls, as well as for all of us human beings. Although a majority of the world's people now live in cities, we are dependent more than ever on forests, in a way that few of us understand. We should recognise the great value of trees and forests in helping us to deal with the excess carbon that we are generating. The burning of forests not only ends their ability to absorb carbon, but it also produces an immediate flow of carbon back into the atmosphere, making it one of the leading sources of greenhouse-gas emissions. Trees themselves could become victims on a massive scale if climate change eventually causes widespread forest death in such places as Amazonia. One potentially promising plan calls for wealthy countries to help those in the tropics to halt the destruction of their immense forests for agriculture and timber. It is hoped that this book will help us all to understand more about how owls relate to their environment, and how important it is for us to use that environment wisely.

In the main, internet and literature searches for this book have not extended beyond the end of November 2011. It is expected that many new discoveries about owl distribution and biology will be made in the near future. There will certainly also be a major revision of some of the ideas about owl taxonomy presented in these pages, as they do, inevitably, raise more unanswered questions than give valid answers. It would be a great pleasure to receive readers' comments and criticisms on any matters connected with the owls of the world. Any photographs of new or less well-known species or subspecies would be similarly welcomed for future editions of the book. All communications should be addressed to the author c/o Bloomsbury Publishing or e-mail

Introduction to second edition

This revised edition pays more attention to owl voices than the first edition. It also includes nineteen new species that have been described or separated since the book was published (up to May 2013), mainly on vocal differences; note that only four of these new species have been confirmed with DNA data. The taxonomy of world owls is still in a state of flux, so I would like to caution readers to keep an open mind on the species listed. It is more than likely that new owl species will be separated out on vocal and/or molecular grounds, and similarly some species now in the book may lose their species status when more is learnt of their distribution, ecology and genetics. Some 70 distribution maps and more than 30 photos have been corrected or added into this new edition. Literature and internet search for this edition ended in May 2013.


What Makes an Owl?

    Significance of ear-tufts
    Silent flight
    Bill and claws
The Nature of Owls
    Shape and size
    Colour variation and ageing
    Abnormalities in owl plumage
    Food and hunting
    Intraguild aggression
    Breeding strategies
    Longevity records

Evolution of Owls
Distribution and Biogeography
Taxonomy and DNA-sequencing
Owls and Humans
Extinct Owls
Owl Associations and Global Research Organisations

    Owls on the internet
Species Accounts
    Distribution maps
    Topography of a typical owl
The Species Accounts


    1. BARN OWL (Tyto alba)
    2. AMERICAN BARN OWL (Tyto furcata)
    3. CURACAO BARN OWL (Tyto bargei)
    4. LESSER ANTILLES BARN OWL (Tyto insularis)
    5. GALAPAGOS BARN OWL (Tyto punctatissima)
    6. CAPE VERDE BARN OWL (Tyto detorta)
    7. SAO TOME BARN OWL (Tyto thomensis)
    8. AUSTRALIAN BARN OWL (Tyto delicatula)
    9. BOANG BARN OWL (Tyto crassirostris)
    10. ANDAMAN BARN OWL (Tyto deroepstorffi)
    11. ASHY-FACED OWL (Tyto glaucops)
    12. MADAGASCAR RED OWL (Tyto soumagnei)
    13. GOLDEN MASKED OWL (Tyto aurantia)
    14. TALIABU MASKED OWL (Tyto nigrobrunnea)
    15. EASTERN GRASS OWL (Tyto longimembris)
    16. AFRICAN GRASS OWL (Tyto capensis)
    17. LESSER MASKED OWL (Tyto sororcula)
    18. AUSTRALIAN MASKED OWL (Tyto novaehollandiae)
    19. MANUS MASKED OWL (Tyto manusi)
    20. SULAWES I MASKED OWL (Tyto rosenbergii)
    21. TASMANIAN MASKED OWL (Tyto castanops)
    22. SULAWESI GOLDEN OWL (Tyto inexspectata)
    23. LESSER SOOTY OWL (Tyto multipunctata)
    24. GREATER SOOTY OWL (Tyto tenebricosa)
    25. ITOMBWE OWL (Tyto prigoginei)
    26. ORIENTAL BAY OWL (Phodilus badius)
    27. SRI LANKA BAY OWL (Phodilus assimilis)


    28. COMMON SCOPS OWL (Otus scops)
    29. PALLID SCOPS OWL (Otus brucei)
    30. ARABIAN SCOPS OWL (Otus pamelae)
    31. AFRICAN SCOPS OWL (Otus senegalensis)
    32. SOCOTRA SCOPS OWL (Otus socotranus)
    33. CINNAMON SCOPS OWL (Otus icterorhynchus)
    34. SOKOKE SCOPS OWL (Otus ireneae)
    35. PEMBA SCOPS OWL (Otus pembaensis)
    36. SAO TOME SCOPS OWL (Otus hartlaubi)
    37. SEYCHELLES SCOPS OWL (Otus insularis)
    38. MAYOTTE SCOPS OWL (Otus mayottensis)
    39. GRANDE COMORE SCOPS OWL (Otus pauliani)
    40. ANJOUAN SCOPS OWL (Otus capnodes)
    41. MOHELI SCOPS OWL (Otus moheliensis)
    42. MADAGASCAR SCOPS OWL (Otus rutilus)
    43. TOROTOROK A SCOPS OWL (Otus madagascariensis)
    44. MOUNTAIN SCOPS OWL (Otus spilocephalus)
    45. INDIAN SCOPS OWL (Otus bakkamoena)
    46. ORIENTAL SCOPS OWL (Otus sunia)
    47. COLLARED SCOPS OWL (Otus lettia)
    48. JAPANESE SCOPS OWL (Otus semitorques)
    49. ELEGANT SCOPS OWL (Otus elegans)
    50. SUNDA SCOPS OWL (Otus lempiji)
    51. NICOBAR SCOPS OWL (Otus alius)
    52. SIMEULUE SCOPS OWL (Otus umbra)
    53. ENGGANO SCOPS OWL (Otus enganensis)
    54. MENTAWAI SCOPS OWL (Otus mentawi)
    55. RAJAH SCOPS OWL (Otus brookii)
    56. SINGAPORE SCOPS OWL (Otus cnephaeus)
    57. LUZON LOWLAND SCOPS OWL (Otus megalotis)
    58. MINDANAO LOWLAND SCOPS OWL (Otus everetti)
    59. VISAYAN LOWLAND SCOPS OWL (Otus nigrorum)
    60. GIANT SCOPS OWL (Otus gurneyi)
    61. PALAWAN SCOPS OWL (Otus fuliginosus)
    62. WHITE-FRONTED SCOPS OWL (Otus sagittatus)
    63. REDDISH SCOPS OWL (Otus rufescens)
    64. SERENDIB SCOPS OWL (Otus thilohoffmanni)
    65. ANDAMAN SCOPS OWL (Otus balli)
    66. JAVAN SCOPS OWL (Otus angelinae)
    67. WALLACE'S SCOPS OWL (Otus silvicola)
    68. FLORES SCOPS OWL (Otus alfredi)
    69. MINDANAO SCOPS OWL (Otus mirus)
    70. LUZON SCOPS OWL (Otus longicornis)
    71. MINDORO SCOPS OWL (Otus mindorensis)
    72. RINJANI SCOPS OWL (Otus jolandae)
    73. MOLUCCAN SCOPS OWL (Otus magicus)
    74. WETAR SCOPS OWL (Otus tempestatis)
    75. SULA SCOPS OWL (Otus sulaensis)
    76. BIAK SCOPS OWL (Otus beccarii)
    77. SULAWESI SCOPS OWL (Otus manadensis)
    78. KALIDUPA SCOPS OWL (Otus kalidupae)
    79. BANGGAI SCOPS OWL (Otus mendeni)
    80. Siau SCOPS OWL (Otus siaoensis)
    81. SANGIHE SCOPS OWL (Otus collari)
    82. MANTANANI SCOPS OWL (Otus mantananensis)
    83. FLAMMULATED OWL (Psiloscops flammeolus)
    84. WESTERN SCREECH OWL (Megascops kennicottii)
    85. EASTERN SCREECH OWL (Megascops asio)
    86. PACIFIC SCREECH OWL (Megascops cooperi)
    87. OAXACA SCREECH OWL (Megascops lambi)
    88. WHISKERED SCREECH OWL (Megascops trichopsis)
    89. BEARDED SCREECH OWL (Megascops barbarus)
    90. BALSAS SCREECH OWL (Megascops seductus)
    91. BARE-SHANKED SCREECH OWL (Megascops clarkii)
    92. TROPICAL SCREECH OWL (Megascops choliba)
    93. MARIA KOEPC'S SCREECH OWL (Megascops koepckeae)
    94. PERUVIAN SCREECH OWL (Megascops roboratus)
    95. TUMBES SCREECH OWL (Megascops pacificus)
    96. MONTANE FOREST SCREECH OWL (Megascops hoyi)
    97. RUFESCENT SCREECH OWL (Megascops ingens)
    98. SANTA MARTA SCREECH OWL (Megascops 'gilesi')
    99. COLOMBIAN SCREECH OWL (Megascops colombianus)
    100. CINNAMON SCREECH OWL (Megascops petersoni)
    101. CLOUD-FOREST SCREECH OWL (Megascops marshalli)
    102. NORTHERN TAWNY-BELLIED SCREECH OWL (Megascops watsonii)
    104. BLACK-CAPPED SCREECH OWL (Megascops atricapilla)
    105. SANTA CATARINA SCREECH OWL (Megascops sanctaecatarinae)
    106. VERMICULATED SCREECH OWL (Megascops vermiculatus)
    107. CHOCI SCREECH OWL (Megascops centralis)
    108. RORAIMA SCREECH OWL (Megascops roraimae)
    109. GUATEMALAN SCREECH OWL (Megascops guatemalae)
    110. PUERTO RICAN SCREECH OWL (Megascops nudipes)
    111. RIO NAPO SCREECH OWL (Megascops napensis)
    112. WHITE-THROATED SCREECH OWL (Megascops albogularis)
    113. PALAU OWL (Pyrroglaux podarginus)
    114. CUBAN BARE-LEGGED OWL (Gymnoglaux lawrencii)
    115. NORTHERN WHITE-FACED OWL (Ptilopsis leucotis)
    116. SOUTHERN WHITE-FACED OWL (Ptilopsis granti)
    117. SNOWY OWL (Nyctea scandiaca)
    118. GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus)
    119. MAGELLANIC HORNED OWL (Bubo magellanicus)
    120. EURASIAN EAGLE OWL (Bubo bubo)
    121. PHARAOH EAGLE OWL (Bubo ascalaphus)
    122. ROCK EAGLE OWL (Bubo bengalensis)
    123. CAPE EAGLE OWL (Bubo capensis)
    124. AKUN EAGLE OWL (Bubo leucostictus)
    126. GREYISH EAGLE OWL (Bubo cinerascens)
    127. FRASER'S EAGLE OWL (Bubo poensis)
    128. USAMBARA EAGLE OWL (Bubo vosseleri)
    129. MILKY EAGLE OWL (Bubo lacteus)
    130. SHELLEY'S EAGLE OWL (Bubo shelleyi)
    131. FOREST EAGLE OWL (Bubo nipalensis)
    132. BARRED EAGLE OWL (Bubo sumatranus)
    133. DUSKY EAGLE OWL (Bubo coromandus)
    134. PHILIPPINE EAGLE OWL (Bubo philippensis)
    135. BLAKISTON'S FISH OWL (Bubo blakistoni)
    136. BROWN FISH OWL (Bubo zeylonensis)
    137. MALAY FISH OWL (Bubo ketupu)
    138. TAWNY FISH OWL (Bubo flavipes)
    139. PEL'S FISH ING OWL (Bubo peli)
    140. RUFOUS FISHING OWL (Bubo ussheri)
    141. VERMICULATED FISHING OWL (Bubo bouvieri)
    142. SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata)
    143. SHORT-BROWED OWL (Pulsatrix Pulsatrix)
    144. TAWNY-BROWED OWL (Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana)
    145. BAND-BELLIED OWL (Pulsatrix melanota)
    146. TAWNY OWL (Strix aluco)
    147. HUME'S OWL (Strix butleri)
    148. AFRICAN WOOD OWL (Strix woodfordii)
    149. SPOTTED WOOD OWL (Strix seloputo)
    150. MOTTLED WOOD OWL (Strix ocellata)
    151. BROWN WOOD OWL (Strix leptogrammica)
    152. NIAS WOOD OWL (Strix niasensis)
    153. HIMALAYAN WOOD OWL (Strix nivicola)
    154. BARTELS'S WOOD OWL (Strix bartelsi)
    155. MOUNTAIN WOOD OWL (Strix newarensis)
    156. MOTTLED OWL (Strix virgata)
    157. RUFOUS-LEGGED OWL (Strix rufipes)
    158. MEXICAN WOOD OWL (Strix squamulata)
    159. CHACO OWL (Strix chacoensis)
    160. RUSTY-BARRED OWL (Strix hylophila)
    161. RUFOU-BANDED OWL (Strix albitarsis)
    162. BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Strix nigrolineata)
    163. BLACK-BANDED OWL (Strix huhula)
    164. SPOTTED OWL (Strix occidentalis)
    165. FULVOUS OWL (Strix fulvescens)
    166. BARRED OWL (Strix varia)
    167. SICHUAN WOOD OWL (Strix davidi)
    168. URAL OWL (Strix uralensis)
    169. GREAT GRAY OWL (Strix nebulosa)
    170. MANED OWL (Jubula lettii)
    171. CRESTED OWL (Lopho Strix cristata)
    172. NORTHERN HAWK OWL (Surnia ulula)
    173. EURASIAN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium passerinum)
    174. PEARL-SPOTTED OWL (Glaucidium perlatum)
    175. RED-CHESTED PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium tephronotum)
    176. COLLARED PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium brodiei)
    177. NORTHERN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium californicum)
    178. BAJA PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium hoskinsii)
    179. MOUNTAIN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium gnoma)
    180. RIDGWAY'S PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium ridgwayi)
    181. CLOUD-FOREST PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium nubicola)
    182. COST ARICAN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium costaricanum)
    183. GUATEMALAN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium cobanense)
    184. CUBAN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium siju)
    185. TAMAULIPAS PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium sanchezi)
    186. COLIMA PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium palmarum)
    187. CENTRAL AMERICAN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium griseiceps)
    188. SICK 'S PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium sicki)
    189. PERNAMBUCO PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium minutissimum)
    190. AMAZONIAN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium hardyi)
    191. FERRUGINOUS PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum)
    192. SUBTROPICAL PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium parkeri)
    193. ANDEAN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium jardinii)
    194. YUNGAS PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium bolivianum)
    195. PERUVIAN PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium peruanum)
    196. AUSTRAL PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium nana)
    197. CHACO PYGMY OWL (Glaucidium tucumanum)
    198. JUNGLE OWLET (Taenioglaux radiata)
    199. CHESTNUT-BACKED OWLET (Taenioglaux castanonota)
    200. JAVAN OWLET (Taenioglaux castanoptera)
    201. ASIAN BARRED OWLET (Taenioglaux cuculoides)
    202. SJOSTEDT'S OWLET (Taenioglaux sjostedti)
    203. ETCHECOPAR'S OWLET (Taenioglaux etchecopari)
    204. AFRICAN BARRED OWLET (Taenioglaux capense)
    205. ALBERTINE OWLET (Taenioglaux albertina)
    206. CHESTNUT OWLET (Taenioglaux castanea)
    207. LONG-WHISKERED OWL (Xenoglaux loweryi)
    208. ELF OWL (Micrathene whitneyi)
    209. FOREST SPOTTED OWL (Heteroglaux blewitti)
    210. BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)
    211. LITTLE OWL (Athene noctua)
    212. LILITH OWL (Athene lilith)
    213. ETHIOPIAN LITTLE OWL (Athene spilogastra)
    214. NORTHERN LITTLE OWL (Athene plumipes)
    215. SPOTTED LITTLE OWL (Athene brama)
    216. TENGMALM'S OWL (Aegolius funereus)
    217. NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL (Aegolius acadicus)
    218. UNSPOTTED SAW-WHET OWL (Aegolius ridgwayi)
    219. BUFF-FRONTED OWL (Aegolius harrisii)
    220. RUFOUS OWL (Ninox rufa)
    221. POWERFUL OWL (Ninox strenua)
    222. BARK ING OWL (Ninox connivens)
    223. SUMBA BOOBOOK (Ninox rudolfi)
    224. SOUTHERN BOOBOOK (Ninox boobook)
    225. MOREPORK (Ninox novaeseelandiae)
    226. RED BOOBOOK (Ninox lurida)
    227. TASM ANIAN BOOBOOK (Ninox leucopsis)
    228. BROWN BOOBOOK (Ninox scutulata)
    229. Northern BOOBOOK (Ninox japonica)
    230. CHOCOLATE BOOBOOK (Ninox randi)
    231. HUME'S HAWK OWL (Ninox obscura)
    232. ANDAMAN HAWK OWL (Ninox affinis)
    233. MADAGASCAR HAWK OWL (Ninox superciliaris)
    234. LUZON HAWK OWL (Ninox philippensis)
    235. MINDORO HAWK OWL (Ninox mindorensis)
    236. MINDANAO HAWK OWL (Ninox spilocephala)
    237. ROMBLON HAWK OWL (Ninox spilonota)
    238. CEBU HAWK OWL (Ninox rumseyi)
    239. CAMIGUIN HAWK OWL (Ninox leventisi)
    240. SULU HAWK OWL (Ninox reyi)
    241. OCHRE-BELLIED HAWK OWL (Ninox ochracea)
    242. WEST SOLOMONS BOOBOOK (Ninox jacquinoti)
    243. GUADALCANAL BOOBOOK (Ninox granti)
    244. MALAITA BOOBOOK (Ninox malaitae)
    245. MAKIRA BOOBOOK (Ninox roseoaxillaris)
    246. JUNGLE HAWK OWL (Ninox theomacha)
    247. SPECKLED HAWK OWL (Ninox punctulata)
    248. RUSSET HAWK OWL (Ninox odiosa)
    249. MOLUCCAN BOOBOOK (Ninox squamipila)
    250. HALMAHERA BOOBOOK (Ninox hypogramma)
    251. TANIMBAR BOOBOOK (Ninox forbesi)
    252. CINNABAR HAWK OWL (Ninox ios)
    253. TOGIAN HAWK OWL (Ninox burhani)
    254. LITTLE SUMBA HAWK OWL (Ninox sumbaensis)
    255. CHRISTMAS HAWK OWL (Ninox natalis)
    256. MANUS HAWK OWL (Ninox meeki)
    257. BISMARCK HAWK OWL (Ninox variegata)
    258. PAPUAN HAWK OWL Uroglaux dimorpha)
    259. FEARFUL OWL (Nesasio solomonensis)
    260. JAMAICAN OWL (Pseudoscops grammicus)
    261. STYGIAN OWL (Asio stygius)
    262. LONG-EARED OWL (Asio otus)
    263. AFRICAN LONG-EARED OWL (Asio abyssinicus)
    264. MADAGASCAR LONG-EARED OWL (Asio madagascariensis)
    265. STRIPED OWL (Asio clamator)
    266. SHORT-EARED OWL (Asio flammeus)
    267. GALAPAGOS SHORT-EARED OWL (Asio galapagoensis)
    268. MARSH OWL (Asio capensis)

Further Reading
Photographic Credits

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