The 4 Species of Owls Found in Madagascar! (2023)

Do you want to know the different types of owls in Madagascar?

Types of owls in Madagascar


If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the owls you can expect to see. For each species, you will find out how to identify each owl correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!


The temptation to intersperse this entire article with puns is almost overwhelming. I could just wing it and beak-off about these birds all day long, but I really do give a hoot, and soon you would be talon me to stop it. Ok, settle down because that is owl you get. 🙂


Keep reading to learn about 4 Types of owls found in Madagascar!


#1. Barn Owl

  • Tyto alba

Common Madagascar owls

Identifying Characteristics:

  • They have a heart-shaped, white facial disk with a tawny brown outline. Their eyes are black.
  • The head, back, and tail are yellowish-brown with some white or ashy grey spots, and the underparts are white.
  • Adults are 17.3 inches (44 cm) tall, with a wingspan of 9 to 12.6 inches (23 to 32 cm).


Although Barn Owns typically roost in hollow trees, they’re often found in caves, wells, and even secluded buildings. They’re nocturnal, so anywhere that provides a dark, quiet space for this species to rest is a likely spot for a roost.


Barn Owls eat small rodents, insects, baby rabbits, small birds, frogs, lizards, and bats. They fly low over the ground, searching out prey with their excellent night vision, and quietly grab their meal from the ground.


Interestingly, wild Barn Owls in Madagascar have a fairly short life span of around two years. But, when kept in captivity, this species can live up to 20 years. Although most animals live longer in captivity due to protection from predators and steady feeding, the Barn Owl takes it to a new level!


While this species is most active at night, they occasionally hunt just after sunrise or before sunset. Instead of trying to find one by sight, listen for its noises which can be varied and distinctive. They communicate with drawn-out screeches, distinct repetitive twittering, or low croaks. The Barn owl can also hiss or rasp when surprised.


#2. Marsh Owl

  • Asio capensis

Common owls found in Madagascar

Identifying Characteristics:

  • This species has a pumpkin-shaped facial disk with a brown rim, brown eyes, and nearly absent ear tufts.
  • The coloring on the wings is dark brown, barred with cream or white, and tawny on the chest and belly.
  • Adults are 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm) long with a wingspan of 11 to 15 inches (28 to 38 cm).


True to its name, the Marsh Owl lives primarily in marshlands. However, it can also be found in open grassland and short scrub. They abandon their nests and move to wetter areas if their habitat gets very dry.


Marsh Owls nest on the ground at the end of the rainy season. They’re monogamous and mate for life. Even though they can be somewhat territorial, it’s not unusual for nesting individuals to live in bigger colonies, close to each other.


Even though Marsh Owls are primarily nocturnal, they can also be seen at dusk and dawn. Look for them while they hunt, either alone or in pairs. Their diet consists of small rodents, insects, and reptiles which they find by flying low over the grass.


#3. Madagascar Red Owl

  • Tyto soumagnei

Owls of Madagascar

Identifying Characteristics:

  • This species has a very prominent white facial disk with a brown outline and deep black eyes. It does not have ear tufts.
  • Its overall coloring is rusty, reddish brown with a pale neck and dark down spots on the shoulders.
  • Adults are 11 to 11.8 inches (28 to 30 cm) long with a wingspan of 8.2 to 9 inches (21 to 23 cm).


The Madagascar Red Owl is strictly nocturnal and roosts in caves, hollow tree trunks, or abandoned artificial structures during the day. It’s often found in western Madagascar’s warm, humid rainforests.


You’re most likely to find a Madagascar Red Owl in Madagascar while it hunts in forest edges and rice fields, mainly looking for small rodents and insects.


Madagascar Red Owls communicate with a loud hissing screech that lowers in pitch at the end. When alarmed, they produce a “wok-wok-wok” sound.


#4. Madagascar Owl

  • Asio madagascariensis

Types of owls in Madagascar

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The facial disk is light brown with darker brown circles around the eyes and a dark brown rim on the ends. This species has big, prominent ear tufts.
  • Overall their coloring is a medium brown with darker streaks and a lighter cream belly.
  • Adults are 16 to 20 inches (41 to 51 cm) long with a wingspan of 2.8 to 3.3 feet (85-101 cm).


The Madagascar Owl is endemic to Madagascar and can be found in the west and central parts of the island, usually in drier forested areas.

Interestingly, there is some evidence that the Madagascar Owl is the same species as the Long-eared Owl in Madagascar. However, because it’s largely been secluded on the island, it’s developed some traits specific to the Madagascar population.


This species is nocturnal and spends the daytime roosting in dense tree foliage. At night it hunts small mammals (especially rodents), insects, birds, and sometimes bats.


The call of the Madagascar Owl is similar to barking, with different pitches and volumes. Sometimes, the call can resemble a “ulooh” hoot.


Do you need more help identifying an owl you saw in Madagascar?


If so, check out this field guide, which is full of great information!

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And be sure to check out these other articles about animals in Madagascar:

Which of these owls have you seen before in Madagascar?


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