Sao Tome Scops Owl (Otus hartlaubi)

Sao Tome Scops Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Otus hartlaubi | [authority] Giebel, 1849 | [UK] Sao Tome Scops Owl | [FR] Petit duc de Sao Thome | [DE] Hartlaubeule | [ES] Autillo de Santo Tome | [NL] Hartlaubs 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

Small, unobtrusive owl with tiny ear-tufts. Light rufous-brown facial disc with white chin and eyebrows. Warm rufous-brown crown and upperparts with rufous vermiculations and black shaft streaks. Black-tipped white spots on scapulars. Buff and white mottling on flight feathers and narrow buff bars on tail. Finely vermiculated white, brown and rufous underparts with bold black streaking. Juvenile paler.

Listen to the sound of Sao Tome Scops Owl

[audio: Tome Scops Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 19 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Africa : Sao Tome


It occurs in primary and undisturbed secondary forest up to 1,500 m, but not in plantations with shade trees.


It is thought that breeding takes place between August and October, just before the start of the short rains. Nesting taking place in a tree cavity or possibly on the ground, and Sao Tome scops-owl fledglings have been observed in October.

Feeding habits

The diet includes invertebrates and probably small lizards. It forages in the dense vegetation of the lower parts of the forest, dropping down onto its prey from a perch, plucking it from foliage, or snatching it from the air whilst in flight. It calls frequently at dusk or dawn and occasionally during the day.

Video Sao Tome Scops Owl


copyright: Helmut Schenkel Brunner


This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is thought to have a small population, given the small area of suitable primary and mature secondary forest habitat within its range.
Otus hartlaubi is endemic to Sao Tome, Sao Tome e Prncipe, where it is relatively widely distributed in suitable habitat and probably has a population of several hundred birds. Reports of a small owl on Prncipe, could refer to this species, but recent searches have found no evidence of its presence.
Sao Tome Scops Owl status Vulnerable


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Sao Tome Scops Owl distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *