Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Indian Scops-owl (Otus bakkamoena)


French: Petit-duc indien German: Indien-Zwergohreule Spanish: Autillo indio
Other common names: Collared Scops-owl (when lumped with O. semitorques, O. lettia and O. lempiji)

Otus bakkamoena


, 1769,

Sri Lanka


Traditionally considered to form a species-group with O. semitorques, O. lettia, O. lempiji, O. megalotis, O. nigrorum, O. everetti, O. fuliginosus and O. mentawi. Taxonomy complex and controversial, with various treatments by different authors: often considered to include one, or several, or all of above-mentioned species as races; sometimes regarded as conspecific with O. lempiji; or as monotypic, with all other currently recognized races placed with O. lettia; boundaries between all taxa poorly understood. Present treatment based mainly on vocalizations. Formerly considered to include race plumipes of O. lettia (which see). Proposed form malabaricus (S Western Ghats) usually synonymized with nominate, but perhaps worth investigating. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. b. deserticolor Ticehurst, 1922 – W & S Pakistan; possibly also SE Iran; old record from Oman probably erroneous.
  • O. b. gangeticus Ticehurst, 1922 – NW Pakistan and NW India to lowland Nepal.
  • O. b. marathae Ticehurst, 1922 – NC peninsular India E to about S West Bengal.
  • O. b. bakkamoena Pennant, 1769 – SW & SE India and Sri Lanka.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–22 cm; male wingspan 60·5–61 cm, female 66 cm; 125–152 g. Medium-sized scops-owl; occurs in grey-brown and rufous morphs; latter generally... read more


    Male gives quiet, frog-like, questioning “wuk?” or “whut?”, repeated at... read more


    Forest, second-growth woodland, groves near towns and in cultivated areas, well-timbered gardens,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily invertebrates such as beetles, grasshoppers and other insects, including moth larvae; occasionally rodents, small birds and... read more


    Lays Dec–May, mostly in later months, often during rainiest season in S of range; in Pakistan, nestlings found in Mar and Apr, also... read more


    Thought to be resident in most of range; some movement to lower levels in winter, and variable... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Widespread and locally common; not really rare anywhere within range. No estimates of global population size or population... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Indian Scops-owl (Otus bakkamoena). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 13 December 2019).