Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Near Threatened

Reddish Scops-owl (Otus rufescens)


French: Petit-duc roussâtre German: Rötel-Zwergohreule Spanish: Autillo rojizo

Strix rufescens


, 1821,



Relationships unclear. Proposed race burbidgei based on single dark-faced specimen from Sulu Is (in W Philippines), but record apparently not accepted as origin of specimen disputed; moreover, description thought possibly not outside normal range of variation of nominate race. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. r. malayensis Hachisuka, 1934 – S peninsular Thailand and peninsular Malaysia.
  • O. r. rufescens (Horsfield, 1821) – Sumatra, Bangka, Java and Borneo.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–18 cm; c. 70–83 g (sexes not identified). Smallish scops-owl. Forehead, ear tufts, eyebrows and chin pale buffy to white; upperparts tawny-rufous with small... read more


    A hollow whistle, “hoooo”, repeated at intervals of c. 7–11 seconds.


    Lowland to submontane forest in Borneo; lowland rainforest or peat-swamp forest in Thailand and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little information. Stomachs of dead birds reported to contain insects (grasshoppers and crickets) and crab parts, the latter in Java.


    Poorly known. In Java, eggs found from Mar–Apr, and downy nestling in mid-Jul. Nests in natural tree holes and old cavities... read more


    Sedentary, although possibly some elevational movement locally.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Rare throughout range, and probably declining in most parts, but elusive and little known. In S Malay... 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). Reddish Scops-owl (Otus rufescens). 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).