Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Near Threatened

Nicobar Scops-owl (Otus alius)


French: Petit-duc des Nicobar German: Nikobaren-Zwergohreule Spanish: Autillo de Nicobar

Otus alius


, 1998,

Campbell Bay, Great Nicobar


Probably closest to O. enganensis and O. umbra. Original specimen, collected in 1966, initially listed as race nicobaricus (= modestus) of O. sunia, though long wings unlike all forms of that species; second specimen collected in 1977, and the two suspected of belonging to an undescribed taxon, tentatively placed with an “expanded” O. magicus. Subsequently treated again as race nicobaricus (= modestus) of O. sunia, or as a form of O. magicus without subspecific allocation, but in one case listed as “Otus sp”. Recent examination of both specimens, along with comparisons with all other Otus taxa of non-mainland SE Asia (N to Philippines), led to conclusion that they were sufficiently distinct in plumage and morphology to warrant recognition as a separate species. Monotypic.


Great Nicobar I, in extreme S Nicobar Is.

Descriptive notes

c. 19–20 cm. Warm brown scops-owl, finely but distinctly barred all over, unstreaked above and with greatly reduced streaking below; mid-length ear-tufts finely barred... read more


Male unknown. Female said to have given protracted melancholic moan on rising scale, “ooo-m” or “oo... read more


Both specimens collected in coastal forest, near sea-level.

Food and feeding

One noted to have eaten a spider and a beetle; stomach contents of other bird included a 10-cm gecko.


Male specimen had greatly enlarged testes on 3 Mar; female specimen approaching breeding condition on 2 Apr. No other information.


Presumably resident.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Very poorly studied species; known from only two specimens, obtained in 1966 and 1977, from same site... 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. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Nicobar Scops-owl (Otus alius). 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 14 December 2019).