Ryukyu Scops Owl (Otus elegans)

Ryukyu Scops Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Otus elegans | [authority] Cassin, 1852 | [UK] Ryukyu Scops Owl | [FR] Petit duc elegant | [DE] Schmuckeule | [ES] Autillo Elegante | [NL] Ryukyu-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

It is a small rufous-brown owl with a brown face disk and a cinnamon facial ruff. The bill is olive-grey and it has yellow eyes.

Listen to the sound of Ryukyu Scops Owl

[audio: Scops Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 20 cm
incubation min.: 29 days incubation max.: 31 days
fledging min.: 29 days fledging max.: 31 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Oriental Region : islands South of Japan to Philippines.Otus elegans is found on the Nansei Shoto islands and Minami-daito-jima island, southern Japan, on Lanyu Island, off south-east Taiwan (China), and on the Batanes and Babuyan islands off northern Luzon, Philippines.


It occurs in subtropical evergreen forest, and locally in or near to villages, from sea-level to 550 m or higher.


Eggs are laid in March-July. Nest in tree hole or Woodpecker cavity. Clutch size is 2-3 eggs which are incubated for about 30 days. YOung fledge after a month. Clutches of 5 eggs have been observed.

Feeding habits

It feeds on a range of arthropods and will take small mammals and small birds.

Video Ryukyu Scops Owl


copyright: Desmond Allen


This species occurs on a number of small islands and has a moderately small global range which is under pressure from habitat conversion. Therefore the species is considered Near Threatened.
It is common wherever suitable habitat remains on the Nansei Shoto, and is presumed to have quite a large population there. The population that persisted on Kita-daito is apparently extinct but 245 territorial males were estimated on adjacent Minami-daito during the 2005 breeding season. It has a population estimated at c.1000 birds on Lanyu Island, and it has been described as fairly common on the Batanes and Babuyan islands. However, its range must have been much reduced and fragmented in the Philippines by deforestation, although its population it thought to be stable on Lanyu Island and its prospects for survival there are good so long as suitable habitat is protected. It is presumably also relatively secure on the Nansei Shoto, but its extirpation from Kita-daito highlights it vulnerability to extensive forest clearance (the island is almost entirely under cultivation now).
Ryukyu Scops Owl status Near Threatened


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Ryukyu Scops Owl distribution range map

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