Barn owl Tyto alba, photographed by Luc Viatour.

Belongs within: Strigiformes.

Tyto is a cosmopolitan genus containing the barn owls and grass owls. Tyto species have a heart-shaped facial disc and legs longer than their tail, with feathers down to the feet, short thigh feathers and a serrated comb on the claw of the middle toe. The barn owl Tyto alba has been treated as one of the most widespread of all birds, with populations on all continents except Antarctica, but some classifications divide barn owls between a number of species, such as the Australian barn owl T. delicatula and the American barn owl T. furcata. The name 'barn owl' derives from their common usage of barns as nesting sites. The grass owls include the African grass owl Tyto capensis and the eastern grass owl T. longimembris; these are long-legged species adapted for hunting in high grasslands. The masked owls T. novaehollandiae and T. castanops of Australia are similar in appearance to the barn owls but larger and more heavily built (Morcombe 2003).

<==Tyto Billberg 1828 (see below for synonymy) CC10
    |--+--*T. alba (Scopoli 1769) CC10, JT12, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
    |  |    |--T. a. alba CC10
    |  |    |--T. a. affinis L81
    |  |    |--T. a. guatemalae FS55 [=T. perlata guatemalae S18]
    |  |    |--T. a. guttata RN72
    |  |    |--T. a. insularis MS55
    |  |    |--T. a. lulu FST81 [=Strix flammea lulu S13]
    |  |    |--T. a. pratincola L81
    |  |    `--T. a. tuidara [incl. Strix perlata, *Glyphidiura perlata, *Strigymnnhemipus perlatus] CC10
    |  `--+--T. delicatula (Gould 1837) BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
    |     `--+--T. bargei BKB15
    |        `--T. furcata BKB15
    `--+--+--T. capensis JT12
       |  `--T. longimembris (Jerdon 1839) JT12, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
       |       |--T. l. longimembris G45
       |       `--T. l. walleri G45
       `--+--+--T. castanops BKB15 (see below for synonymy)
          |  `--T. novaehollandiae (Stephens 1826) JT12, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
          |       |--T. n. novaehollandiae M03
          |       `--T. n. melvillensis M03
          `--+--T. multipunctata BKB15
             `--T. tenebricosa JT12

Tyto incertae sedis:
  T. aurantia JT12
  T. balearica Mourer-Chauviré, Alcover et al. 1980 M02
  T. cavatica SWK87
  T. gigantea Ballmann 1973 [incl. T. robusta Ballmann 1973] M02
  T. glaucops JT12
  T. inexspectata JT12
  T. javanica (Gmelin 1788) CC10
  T. manusi JT12
  T. nigrobrunnea JT12
  T. ostolaga BP87
  T. rosenbergii JT12
  T. sanctialbani (Lydekker 1893) [=Strix sanctialbani; incl. T. campiterrae Jánossy 1991] M02
  T. sororcula JT12
  T. soumagnei JT12

Tyto Billberg 1828 [=Hybris Nitzsch 1833; incl. Aluco Fleming 1822 non Link 1807, Dactylostrix Kaup 1852, Eustrinx Webb, Berthelot & Moquin-Tandon 1841, Flammea Fournel 1836, Glaucostrix Gray 1855, Glaux Blyth 1851 non Rylands 1836, Glyphidiura Reichenbach 1840, Scelostrix Kaup 1852, Stridula Selys-Longchamps 1842, Strigymnhemipus Des Murs 1853, Strix Savigny 1809 non Linnaeus 1758, Ulula Nitzsch 1829 non Cuvier 1816; Aluconinae, Flammeinae, Hybreinae] CC10

*Tyto alba (Scopoli 1769) CC10, JT12, CC10 [=Strix alba CC10, *Hybris alba CC10; incl. *Aluco flammea Linné 1766 CC10, B94, *Eustrinx flammea CC10, *Stridula flammea, *Strix flammea non Pontoppidan 1763 CC10, *Ulula flammea CC10, Strix melitensis Lydekker 1891 M02, Tyto melitensis M02, Strix vulgaris CC10, *Flammea vulgaris CC10]

Tyto castanops BKB15 [=Strix castanops CC10, *Dactylostrix castanops CC10, Tyto novaehollandiae castanops CC10]

Tyto delicatula (Gould 1837) BKB15, CC10 [=Strix delicatulus CC10, Aluco delicatula CC10, S. flammea delicatula S13, Tyto alba delicatula CC10; incl. T. alba alexandrae Mathews 1912 CC10]

Tyto longimembris (Jerdon 1839) JT12, WS48 [=Strix longimembris WS48, T. capensis longimembris CC10; incl. S. candida CC10, *Glaucostrix candida CC10, *Glaux candida CC10, *Scelostrix candida CC10, Tyto longimembris maculosa Glauert 1945 WS48]

Tyto novaehollandiae (Stephens 1826) JT12, WS48 [=Strix novaehollandiae WS48; incl. T. novaehollandiae kimberli Mathews 1912 WS48, T. novaehollandiae perplexa Mathews 1912 WS48]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[BP87] Burton, J. A., & B. Pearson. 1987. Collins Guide to the Rare Mammals of the World. Collins: London.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[FST81] Falla, R. A., R. B. Sibson & E. G. Turbott. 1981. Collins Guide to the Birds of New Zealand and Outlying Islands 2nd ed. with addenda. Collins: Auckland.

[FS55] Felten, H., & J. Steinbacher. 1955. Zur Vogelfauna von El Salvador. Senckenbergiana Biologica 36 (1–2): 9–19.

[G45] Glauert, L. 1945. A Western Australian grass owl. Emu 44: 229–230.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[L81] Long, J. L. 1981. Introduced Birds of the World: The worldwide history, distribution and influence of birds introduced to new environments. Reed: Sydney.

[MS55] Mertens, R., & J. Steinbacher. 1955. Die im Senckenberg-Museum vorhandenen Arten ausgestorbener, aussterbender oder seltener Vögel. Senckenbergiana Biologica 36 (3–4): 241–265.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[M03] Morcombe, M. 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds.) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 2. Blandford Press: London.

[S13] Sarasin, F. 1913. Die Vögel Neu-Caledoniens und der Loyalty-Inseln. In: Sarasin, F., & J. Roux (eds) Nova Caledonia: Forschungen in Neu-Caledonian und auf den Loyalty-Inseln. A. Zoologie vol. 1 pt 1 pp. 1–78, pls 1–3. C. W. Kreidels Verlag: Wiesbaden.

[SWK87] Snyder, N. F. R., J. W. Wiley & C. B. Kepler. 1987. The Parrots of Luquillo: Natural history and conservation of the Puerto Rican parrot. Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology: Los Angeles.

[S18] Stone, W. 1918. Birds of the Panama Canal Zone, with special reference to a collection made by Mr. Lindsey L. Jewel. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 70: 239–280.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

Last updated: 10 August 2019.

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