Barn-owls (Tytonidae)

Common Barn-owl (Tyto alba) - HBW 5, p. 71

French: Effraie des clochers German: Schleiereule Spanish: Lechuza Común
Other common names: Barn Owl, Lesser Masked-owl(!), Monkey-faced Owl, Cave/Death/Delicate/Demon/Ghost/Golden/Hissing/Night/Screech/Silver/White Owl; Eastern/Australian Barn-owl (delicatula); Galapagos Barn-owl (punctatissima)

Taxonomy: Strix alba Scopoli, 1769, Friuli, Italy.
Up to 46 races recognized in recent works, but status and distribution of several uncertain, and review of whole group long overdue. West Indian taxa glaucops, insularis and nigrescens formerly included in present species, now shown to be separate species, T. glaucops; some authors separate only glaucops, retaining other two races in present species. Considerable variation in size and colour may be more individual than geographical in many continental and some island regions, with possibly expanding zones of intergradation, particularly in Europe. Nominate a.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Strix alba Scopoli, 1769, Friuli, Italy.
Up to 46 races recognized in recent works, but status and distribution of several uncertain, and review of whole group long overdue. West Indian taxa glaucops, insularis and nigrescens formerly included in present species, now shown to be separate species, T. glaucops; some authors separate only glaucops, retaining other two races in present species. Considerable variation in size and colour may be more individual than geographical in many continental and some island regions, with possibly expanding zones of intergradation, particularly in Europe. Nominate and guttata intergrade from Netherlands, Belgium and N & E France to Germany (Rhine Valley) and C Switzerland; nominate intergrades with affinis in region of S Egypt and N Sudan. Validity of many proposed races considered too doubtful to be upheld: in Europe, pusilla, kleinschmidti, kirchhoffi and hostilis merged with nominate, and rhenana with guttata; Madagascan hypermetra with African affinis; island populations everetti, kuehni, bellonae, lifuensis and lulu with widespread Australasian delicatula; Bahamian lucayana with pratincola; and, in Neotropics, Colombian subandeana with guatemalae, stictica with contempta and hauchecornei with tuidara. Also, current separation of niveicauda from furcata (based on colour characters) and of guatemalae from pratincola (ranges in Central America not yet satisfactorily determined) perhaps doubtful, and continued separation of bondi may not be tenable; size and colour variation in Neotropics in need of reassessment, and separation of hellmayri from tuidara based on size characters questionable. Furthermore, poensis possibly not separable from affinis, in which case poensis (as older name) has priority over latter. N African nominate race birds sometimes placed in erlangeri; birds from S Myanmar to Indochina sometimes placed in javanica, but seem better included in stertens. Melanesian populations, currently covered by 3 races (delicatula, crassirostris, interposita), may merit further splits. Several well-marked insular races (e.g. detorta, thomensis, deroepstorffi, punctatissima and possibly others) may be separate species; recent proposals to elevate delicatula to species level (see page 36), however, do not consider which races it would include. Twenty-eight subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • alba (Scopoli, 1769) - W & S Europe (including Balearic Is and Sicily) to N Turkey; also W Canary Is (Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro), and N Africa from Morocco to Egypt (except Sinai), S to N Mauritania, S Algeria, Niger (Aïr Massif) and NE Sudan.
  • guttata (C. L. Brehm, 1831) - C Europe E to Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine, and SE to Albania, Macedonia, Romainia and NE Greece.
  • ernesti (Kleinschmidt, 1901) - Sardinia and Corsica.

     See all 28 subspecies
  • alba (Scopoli, 1769) - W & S Europe (including Balearic Is and Sicily) to N Turkey; also W Canary Is (Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro), and N Africa from Morocco to Egypt (except Sinai), S to N Mauritania, S Algeria, Niger (Aïr Massif) and NE Sudan.
  • guttata (C. L. Brehm, 1831) - C Europe E to Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine, and SE to Albania, Macedonia, Romainia and NE Greece.
  • ernesti (Kleinschmidt, 1901) - Sardinia and Corsica.
  • erlangeri W. L. Sclater, 1921 - Crete and smaller S Greek islands, Cyprus and patchily from Syria E to SW Iran and S to NE Egypt (Sinai) and S Arabian Peninsula.
  • schmitzi (Hartert, 1900) - Madeira and Porto Santo.
  • gracilirostris (Hartert, 1905) - E Canary Is (Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Lobos, Montaña Clara, Alegranza).
  • detorta Hartert, 1913 - Cape Verde Is.
  • affinis (Blyth, 1862) - Africa S from S edge of Sahara, including Zanzibar and Pemba, and Madagascar and Comoro Is.
  • poensis (Fraser, 1842) - Bioko I.
  • thomensis (Hartlaub, 1852) - São Tomé I; recorded in error from Príncipe I.
  • stertens Hartert, 1929 - Indian Subcontinent S to N Sri Lanka, and E to SC China (Yunnan), Vietnam and S Thailand.
  • deroepstorffi (Hume, 1875) - S Andaman Is.
  • javanica (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) - Malay Peninsula S to Greater Sundas (including Krakatau, Pulau Seribu and Kangean Is, and possibly S Borneo) and E to Alor, as well as Tanahjampea, Kalao and Kalaotoa.
  • sumbaensis (Hartert, 1897) - Sumba I.
  • meeki (Rothschild & Hartert, 1907) - E New Guinea and nearby islands of Manam and Karkar.
  • delicatula (Gould, 1837) - Sawu, Roti(?), Timor, Jaco, Wetar, Kisar and Tanimbar Is; Australia and offshore islands; Long I and possibly N New Britain and New Ireland; also Nissan, Buka, Solomon Is (including Bougainville), S Vanuatu (Erromanga, Tanna, Aneityum), New Caledonia, Loyalty Is, Fiji (N to Rotuma), Tonga (N to Niafo’ou), Wallis and Futuna Is, Niue I, Western Samoa and Samoa.
  • crassirostris Mayr, 1935 - Tanga Is (E Bismarck Archipelago).
  • interposita Mayr, 1935 - Santa Cruz Is, Banks Is, N Vanuatu (S to Efate).
  • pratincola (Bonaparte, 1838) - S Canada S at least to Mexico; also Bermuda, Bahamas and Hispaniola.
  • guatemalae (Ridgway, 1874) - Guatemala and perhaps S Mexico to Panama (including Pearl Is), possibly to W Colombia.
  • bondi Parkes & Phillips, 1978 - Bay Is (Roatán, Guanaja), off N Honduras.
  • furcata (Temminck, 1827) - Cuba, Cayman Is and Jamaica.
  • niveicauda Parkes & Phillips, 1978 - I of Pines.
  • bargei (Hartert, 1892) - Curaçao, and possibly also Bonaire.
  • punctatissima (G. R. Gray, 1838) - Galapagos Is.
  • contempta (Hartert, 1898) - W Venezuela, Colombia (except W?), Ecuador and Peru.
  • hellmayri Griscom & Greenway, 1937 - E Venezuela (including Margarita I) through the Guianas to N Brazil (S to Amazon); also Trinidad and Tobago.
  • tuidara (J. E. Gray, 1829) - Brazil (S of Amazon) S to Tierra del Fuego and Falkland Is.