Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Moluccan Scops-owl (Otus magicus)


French: Petit-duc mystérieux German: Molukken-Zwergohreule Spanish: Autillo moluqueño

Strix magica

S. Müller

, 1841,

Ambon, South Moluccas


Probably closely related to O. mantananensis, the two being closely allied to the O. manadensis species-group (see above). Sometimes considered conspecific with O. manadensis, or variously to include O. enganensis, O. insularis and O. beccarii as races, but all shown to be morphologically and/or vocally distinct; moreover, O. alfredi recently treated as a rufous morph of race albiventris of present species, but shown by morphological study to be distinct and separate species. See also O. jolandae (below). Until recently was considered conspecific with O. tempestatis, which differs#R from nearest-neighbour O. m. albiventris in its well-spaced groups of 4–6 short-spaced barking calls vs well-spaced barking calls (same in Flores and Moluccas), those of tempestatis being slightly higher-pitched (3); slightly longer tail (no overlap, but tempestatis n=3) (allow 1); weaker dark markings on upperparts (1); notably more clearly barred tail (1); shorter ear-tufts (1); high incidence of rufous morph (6 of 13 specimens#R) (ns[1]); belly more patterned, rather than largely white (ns); whiter and seemingly more extensive barring on the primaries (ns) (these last two not scored as particular to albiventris). Classification and true affinities of Otus taxa in SE Asia, particularly island forms, highly complex and still debatable, and relationship between present species and O. manadensis confused: form kalidupae currently included in latter, but sometimes placed with present species; current arrangement highly tentative, and further research required. Also, described races leucospilus and obira have been thought possibly synonyms of nominate race of present species, although at least the former distinct enough; vocalizations of obira similar to those of nominate, leucospilus and albiventris, but somewhat more restricted in frequency range#R. Race bouruensis sometimes included in nominate. Six subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. m. morotensis (Sharpe, 1875) – Morotai and Ternate, in N Moluccas.
  • O. m. leucospilus (G. R. Gray, 1861) – Halmahera, Kasiruta and Bacan.
  • O. m. obira Jany, 1955 – Obi.
  • O. m. bouruensis (Sharpe, 1875) – Buru, in S Moluccas.
  • O. m. magicus (S. Müller, 1841) – Ambon and Seram.
  • O. m. albiventris (Sharpe, 1875) – W & C Lesser Sundas (Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Lembata)#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    23–25 cm; 114–165 g. Occurs in grey-brown, rufous and yellow-brown morphs, with various intermediates. Facial disc whitish with variable rufous to greyish tinge,... read more


    Male territorial call a harsh, barking, raven-like croak, repeated at intervals of a few seconds,... read more


    Observed in primary forests and often in coastal swamp forests; also second-growth forests, logged... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects; probably a few small vertebrates taken on occasion.


    Nestlings noted in Nov and Dec; nest probably in tree cavity; no other information.


    Presumably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Considered common on Buru, uncommon on Sumbawa and was frequently heard on Obi; little information on status from rest of... 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., Christie, D.A., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Moluccan Scops-owl (Otus magicus). 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 11 December 2019).