African Scops Owl (Otus senegalensis)

African Scops Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Otus senegalensis | [authority] Swainson, 1837 | [UK] African Scops Owl | [FR] Petit duc africain | [DE] Afrika-Zwergohreule | [ES] Autillo Africano | [NL] Afrikaanse Dwergooruil


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Otus are the Scops and Screech owls. They are relatively small owls, with short, rounded wings. Most have erectile ear-tufts. Otus is a worldwide genus, containing some 45 species.

Physical charateristics

The African Scops-Owl has a height of 18 cms and weighs around 65 gms. The head is coloured grey while the bill is coloured black. The Otus senegalensis has a white coloured throat, brown legs and a grey coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

Listen to the sound of African Scops Owl

[audio: Scops Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 18 cm size max.: 19 cm
incubation min.: 27 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 30 days fledging max.: 31 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 6  


Africa : widespread.


The bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds. This bird is very common in most of the Southern African Forests. The bird is an urban dweller as well, being at home in parks, gardens and in old vacated buildings


The African Scops-Owl is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 4 eggs and they are coloured white. The bird builds its nest within a tree cavity just a few meters above the ground. The hole in the tree is normally reused in the next nesting season. Incubation about 27 days. Young fledge by about 30 days.

Feeding habits

The Otus senegalensis attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten. The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The African Scops-Owl uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

Video African Scops Owl


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
African Scops Owl status Least Concern


Presumed resident

Distribution map

African Scops Owl distribution range map

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