The brown fish owl

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A brown fish owl is perched in a tree at Wutong Mountain in Luohu District. Photos by Isaac Cohen

Brown fish owl

When the night falls in the city, and most animals go to find a place to rest, it is time for the nocturnal animals to wake up and be active. One of the most fascinating nocturnal animals we can find in Shenzhen is the magnificent brown fish owl (Ketupa zeylonensis).


Growing up to 60 centimeters in length and with an impressive wingspan of almost 1.5 meters, this large owl can be spotted foragingShenzhen’s suburban mountains for food.


Brown fish owls have a flat head adorned with a noticeable set of feathers that resemble the ears of furry animals. The face is a yellowishbrown, and the cheeks, crown, and upper parts are dark brown with some streaks.


The wings are mottled with dark brown feathers, and the throat is whitish, with a continued lighter coloration over the chest and belly with brownish crossed lines. The eyes are bright yellow, the beak is gray, and the legs and feet are also yellowish.


A brown fish owl is perched in a tree at Wutong Mountain in Luohu District. 

Brown fish owls are commonly seen in forested areas around streams, hunting for fish, amphibians, snakes and lizards. However, they have also been observed consuming rodents, insects and even other birds.


This fascinating owl breeds during the winter months in our city and nests near water sources where they lay up to three eggs per clutch. Eggs hatch after about five weeks and the work is done by females alone. However, chicks will be cared for by both parents for 50 days before they are ready for independence.


In addition to being fascinating creatures to watch, owls are essential as third-order predators incontrolling the population of other predators, so it’snecessary to preserve them and their habitats.