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The Masked Owl has three basic plumage forms: pale, intermediate and dark. The plumage pattern remains similar in each case. The facial disc is chestnut to white, edged with a darker ring and darker around the bill and below the eyes. The upper parts vary from blackish-brown to grey-white and are liberally spotted with grey and white. The underparts are rufous to white, speckled with dark brown. Sexes are similar in plumage, but the females are markedly larger and generally darker than the males. Young Masked Owls are white to cream in colour when first fledged. After the first year, they closely resemble the adults but may be more heavily streaked. Tasmanian birds are larger than those on the mainland. This species is the largest Tyto owl and the second largest of the nocturnal birds (night birds) in Australia (the largest is the Powerful Owl, Ninox strenua ).