Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Sandy Scops-owl (Otus icterorhynchus)


French: Petit-duc à bec jaune German: Gelbschnabel-Zwergohreule Spanish: Autillo piquigualdo
Other common names: Cinnamon Scops-owl

Scops icterorhynchus


, 1873,

Fantee, Ghana


Probably closest to O. ireneae. Has been considered conspecific with Asian O. balli on basis of morphology, but differs significantly in plumage and vocal characters. Some authors have included Sumatran form “stresemanni” of O. spilocephalus (see that species) as a race of present species, or regarded the two species as close relatives. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. i. icterorhynchus (Shelley, 1873) – Liberia, Ivory Coast, SE Guinea and Ghana.
  • O. i. holerythrus (Sharpe, 1901) – S Cameroon, N Congo, Gabon and N & E DRCongo.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–20 cm; 61–80 g (sexes not stated). Fairly small scops-owl with head and upperparts cinnamon-brown with bars and spots of buff and white, and conspicuous white... read more


    Poorly known. Said to give a single drawn-out whistle, “wheeoo”, up to 1 second... read more


    Lowland evergreen forest and forest edge; in Liberia, recorded in high forest, including logged... read more

    Food and feeding

    No quantitative information. Stomach contents of collected specimens included crickets and grasshoppers. Captive bird consumed only insects... read more


    Detailed information unknown. Possibly lays Feb–Mar; nestling found in DR Congo in May and juveniles in Cameroon in Apr; in... read more


    Presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. A very poorly known species that appears to be rare throughout its fragmented range; only a handful of specimens known,... 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. (2020). Sandy Scops-owl (Otus icterorhynchus). 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 23 January 2020).