Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Sunda Scops-owl (Otus lempiji)


French: Petit-duc de Horsfield German: Sunda-Zwergohreule Spanish: Autillo de la Sonda
Other common names: Singapore Scops-owl (cnephaeus)

Srix [sic] Lempiji


, 1821,



Traditionally considered to belong to species-group centred on O. bakkamoena (which see). Frequently treated as part of O. bakkamoena, and sometimes considered conspecific with O. lettia, but vocalizations distinct. Race cnephaeus has recently been treated as separate species#R on account of “song totally different” (“a resonant hoot at the same pitch: kwookh, uttered at intervals of c. 14 seconds….without any inflection”), but this is not supported by other observers, who report that cnephaeus has another call that does contain the upward inflection that allies it very closely with lempiji#R#R#R#R; indeed, cnephaeus and hypnodes are sometimes subsumed within nominate#R, from which condorensis also is doubtfully distinct. Six subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. l. condorensis Kloss, 1930 – Con Son I (off S Vietnam).
  • O. l. lempiji (Horsfield, 1821) – Malay Peninsula (except S), S Sumatra, Bangka, Belitung, Java, Bali, N Natuna Is, Borneo (except N).
  • O. l. cnephaeus Deignan, 1950 – S Malay Peninsula.
  • O. l. hypnodes Deignan, 1950 – N & C Sumatra.
  • O. l. lemurum Deignan, 1957 – N Borneo.
  • O. l. kangeanus Mayr, 1938 – Kangean Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; 90–140 g. Occurs in grey-brown and rufous morphs. Facial disc greyish to light rufous-buff with blackish border; buffy-whitish forehead, eyebrows and... read more


    Male utters soft, upward-inflected “wooup”, typically repeated at intervals of c. 10... read more


    Second-growth evergreen and deciduous forest, forest edge, plantations, open areas with scattered... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly insects, especially large beetles, Orthoptera, Lepidoptera and mantids; occasionally small birds, e.g. munias (Lonchura),... read more


    Lays mainly Jan–Apr, occasionally later; fledgling just off nest in mid Jun in Borneo. In Singapore, nests with eggs reported from... read more


    Resident. Home-range size of six radio-tagged adults in peninsular Malaysia averaged 2·... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Considered common in Malaysia and fairly common to very common throughout Greater Sundas, although no data on global... 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). Sunda Scops-owl (Otus lempiji). 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 20 January 2020).