Friday, December 9

Pallid scops owl

   ›      ›   Pallid scops owl - Otus brucei.

The pallid scops owl (Otus brucei) belongs to the family of typical owls, Strigidae.

These species of owls are distributed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Oman, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. There are four recognized subspecies of pallid scops owl.

Pallid scops owl - Overview

  • Scientific name: Otus brucei
  • Species author: (Hume, 1872)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Ephialtes Brucei A. O. Hume, 1872
  • Family: Strigidae › Strigiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Pallid scops owl, Chinese: 纵纹角鸮, French: Petit-duc de Bruce, German: Streifen-Zwergohreule, Spanish: Autillo persa, Russian: Пустынная совка, Japanese: サバクミミズク
  • Other names: Bruce's Scops-Owl, Desert Screech Owl, Striated Scops-Owl
  • Distribution: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Oman, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, beetles, moths, locusts, crickets, small rodents, reptiles, birds
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The four recognized subspecies of pallid scops owl are: Otus brucei brucei (A. O. Hume, 1872), Otus brucei obsoletus (Cabanis, 1875), Otus brucei semenowi (Zarudny & Härms, 1902) and Otus brucei exiguus Mukherjee, 1958. The pallid scops owl is closely related to O. pamelae, O. socotranus, O. scops and O. sunia.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The pallid scops owl (Otus brucei) is a smallish owl measuring about 20 to 22 cm in length and weighing 100 to 110 grams. The wingspan is 55 to 65 cm.


The plumage is pale buff or gray with fine distinct streaking. It has short ear-tufts and the facial disc is pale buffish-white in color. The irise are bright yellow. The pallid scops owl call is a low, hollow “whoop” or “whoo” sound.
Birds of India - Image of Pallid scops owl - Otus brucei
Indian birds - Picture of Pallid scops owl - Otus brucei
Indian birds - Pallid scops owl - Otus brucei
Birds of India - Image of Pallid scops owl - Otus brucei by Marcel Holyoak

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The pallid scops owl is distributed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Oman, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. In India the pallid scops owl occurs in the state of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Vagrant birds are recorded in Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen.

The pallid scops owl subspecies O. b. brucei is distributed in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The subspecies O. b. obsoletus is distributed in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The pallid owl subspecies O. b. semenowi is distributed in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. The subspecies O. b. exiguus is distributed in Israel, Iraq, Iran, Oman, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ecosystem and habitat

The pallid scops owl species have low forest dependence. They inhabit various ecosystems with semi-open areas with trees and bushes. They inhabit open woodlands, plantations, urban parks, rural gardens, tropical moist lowlands, moist montane and submontane woods, temperate shrublands, hot deserts and rocky areas. The pallid scops owl may occur in elevations of 0 to 1800 meters.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these pallid owl species in Iran are Deh Bakhri area and Khabr-va-Rouchoon Wildlife Refuge. The IBA in Iraq are Abu Habba and Habbaniya Lake. The IBA of these owl species in Israel are Cliffs of Zin and the Negev highlands and Southern Arava valley and Elat mountains. The IBA in Kazakhstan are Ili River Delta and Zheltoranga.

The IBA of the pallid scops owl species in Uzbekistan are Zarafshan State Nature Reserve, Vardanzi, Khodzhaa-Davlet, Dzheiran Ecocentre and Dalverzin State Forestry and Hunting Management Area. The IBA of these owl species in Turkmenistan are Tejen, Saryyazy, Repetek, Nargyz, Muskinata, Garachop and Garabil. The IBA in Turkey are Southern Euphrates Valley and Birecik Plains and Karkamış.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of these pallid scops owl species is mostly insects such as beetles, moths, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas etc.. They also feed on mammals like small rodents, bats and shrews. Small birds, nestlings and reptiles also form part of their diet.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these pallid owl species is from April to June in most of the range. The clutch has 4 to 6 eggs. These owl species lay eggs in natural tree holes and in abandoned woodpecker holes. The chicks hatch out after an incubation period of about 26-28 days and fledge when about 30 days old.

Migration and movement patterns

These owl species are mostly migrant birds. They move southwards as far as the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and Pakistan for wintering. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding.


Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the pallid scops owl (Otus brucei) has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be stable. Throughout its range this species is reported to be common. Habitat degradation, destruction and fragmentation are the main threats to the survival of these bird species. Their generation length is 3.7 years.

The pallid scops owl (Otus brucei) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the pallid scops owl (Otus brucei) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Otus brucei
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Strigiformes
Family:Strigidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Otus
Species:O. brucei
Binomial name:Otus brucei
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pallid_Scops_Owl.jpg
Image author: Sumeet Moghe | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/maholyoak/5917440839/
Image author: Marcel Holyoak | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (as on 2016-12-09)
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