Indian scops owl

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The Indian scops owl (Otus bakkamoena) belongs to the family of typical owls, Strigidae. These owl species are distributed in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Their occurrence in Oman and Iran is unconfirmed. These oriental bay owl species occur as grey-brown and rufous morphs. There are four recognized subspecies of these birds.

Indian scops owl - Overview

  • Scientific name: Otus bakkamoena
  • Species author: (Pennant, 1769)
  • Synonyms: Otus bakkamoena Pennant, 1769
  • Family: Strigidae › Strigiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Common Name: Indian scops owl
  • Other languages: Chinese: 印度领角鸮, French: Petit-duc indien, German: Indien-Zwergohreule, Spanish: Autillo indio, Russian: Ошейниковая совка, Malay: Burung Hantu Reban, Indonesian: Burung Celepuk Reban, Hindi: भारतीय Scops उल्लू;
  • Other names: Collared Scops-owl
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent (except Bangladesh)
  • Diet and feeding habits: large insects, rodents, birds, lizards, frogs
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The four recognized subspecies of Otus bakkamoena are: O. b. bakkamoena Pennant, 1769, O. b. deserticolor Ticehurst, 1922, O. b. marathae Ticehurst, 1922 and O. b. gangeticus Ticehurst, 1922. Otus bakkamoena is considered to be closely related to O. semitorques (Japanese scops owl), O. lettia (collared scops owl), O. lempiji (Sunda scops owl), O. megalotis (Philippine scops owl), O. nigrorum, O. everetti, O. fuliginosus and O. mentawi.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Indian scops owl is a small nocturnal bird, measuring 22 to 25 cm in length and weighing 125 to 160 grams. It is one of the largest scops owl. The wingspan is around 60 cm. There are gray and rufous morphs. The upper parts are gray or reddish brown with scattered faint yellowish brown spotting.

The underparts are gray or buff with scattered fine darker vertical streaking. The facial disc is whitish or pale buff. The eyes are large with orange or brown color. There is a dark neck band. The bill is gray and there are bristles around the base of the bill. Their call is a soft single note "whuk" sound.
Indian scops owl - Otus bakkamoena
Image of Indian scops owl - Otus bakkamoena
Indian scops owl - Otus bakkamoena
Indian scops owl - Otus bakkamoena
Indian scops owl - Otus bakkamoena
Indian scops owl - Otus bakkamoena - Gray morph

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The scops owl subspecies O. b. deserticolor is distributed in West and South Pakistan. Its occurrence in Oman and Southeast Iran is unconfirmed. The subspecies O. b. bakkamoena is distributed in peninsular Indian States and Sri Lanka.

The owl subspecies O. b. gangeticus is distributed in Northwest Pakistan, Northwest Indian States and lowland Nepal. The subspecies O. b. marathae is distributed in southern Indian States and Odisha and West Bengal.

Ecosystem and habitat

These species inhabit submontane forests, temperate forests, foothill forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, dense evergreen primary and secondary forests and hillside forests. They also inhabit thick plantations near towns and cultivated areas and gardens, orchards and parks with dense shade giving trees.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of these owl species is primarily large insects like beetles, grasshoppers, cicadas and moths. The also feed on small rodents, small birds, lizards and frogs.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the Indian scops owl species is from March to May in Pakistan. In rest of the range the breeding season is in the rain months. They nest in tree hollows and lay 4-5 eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

These bird species are mostly sedentary and are residents in their ranges. 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 Indian scops owl has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be stable. These species have large range and population. This owl species does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable neither under the population trend criterion nor under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the Indian scops owl species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has listed these owls under Appendix II.

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Otus bakkamoena
Species:O. bakkamoena
Binomial name:Otus bakkamoena
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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