African scops owl

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African scops owl
African Scopes-owl Otus senegalensis.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Otus
Species: O. senegalensis
Binomial name
Otus senegalensis
(Swainson, 1837)

The African scops owl (Otus senegalensis) is a small owl endemic to sub-Saharan Africa.

The African scops owl gives a distinctive "prrrp" at five second intervals. It is nevertheless difficult to sight due to its camouflage, small size and cryptic behavior. When roosting in daylight, this species extends its ear tufts to give the impression of a tree branch, making it easily overlooked. The African scops owl is around 15–17 cm in length.

The African scops owl's primary habitat is woodland, especially Mopane and Okavango; it also inhabits a wide range of mixed bushveld.

The African scops owl produces four to six eggs throughout April and June. Incubation lasts about 27 days. The young fledge in 30 days. The African scops owl lays her eggs in a tree hollow.


When he first described the African scops owl in 1837, from a specimen collected in Senegal, William John Swainson assigned it to the now defunct genus Scops, giving it the scientific name Scops senegalensis.[2]


The African scops owl is a small owl, measuring 17 cm (6.7 in) in length. It is typically greyish-brown, though sometimes pale rufous or warmer brown, and is cryptically marked with streaks and mottling. Its grey facial disk has a narrow black edge, and its eyes are yellow. It has ear tufts, which are generally kept lowered unless the bird is disturbed.[3]

Similar species[edit]

The migrant Eurasian scops owl is very similar to the African scops owl; though it averages slightly larger, it may not be distinguishable in the field.[3]

Range and habitat[edit]

The African scops owl is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa.[2] It ranges from sea level to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in elevation, and is found in wooded habitats and forest edge,[3] including in gardens and mangroves.[4]


The African scops owl is strictly nocturnal. During the day, it perches close to the trunk of a tree.[4]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Otus senegalensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b König, Claus; Weick, Friedhelm (2008). Owls of the World. London, UK: Christopher Helm. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-7136-6548-2. 
  3. ^ a b c Stevenson, Terry; Fanshawe, John (2002). Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi. London, UK: TD & A Poyser. p. 200. ISBN 0-85661-079-8. 
  4. ^ a b Barlow, Clive; Wacher, Tim (1997). A Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia and Senegal. New Haven, CT, US: Yale University Press. p. 236. ISBN 0-300-11574-1. 

External links[edit]