Backyard Birds

Reddish Scops Owl (Otus rufescens)

The Reddish Scops Owls (Otus rufescens) – also known as Rufescent or Rufous Scops Owls – occur naturally in Southeast Asia.

Distribution and Habitat

The Reddish Scops Owls are found in the Sundaic lowlands – from south peninsular Thailand, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Kalimantan, Sumatra (including Bangka Island) and Java, Indonesia and Brunei. They have also been reported in the Philippines and possibly from islands offshore from Sabahis (Malaysia).

They inhabit primary and tall secondary forests – including logged forests, up to 3,280 feet (1000 meters).

Due to extensive destruction of its forest habitats, their numbers have shown a sharp decline.

Subspecies, Ranges and Identification:

  • Otus rufescens rufescens (Horsfield, 1821) – Nominate Race
    • Range: Sumatra, Bangka, Java and Borneo
  • Otus rufescens malayensis (Hachisuka, 1934)
    • Range: Southern peninsular Thailand and peninsular Malaysia (Malay Pensula).
    • ID: Two morphs: One is darker plumaged than the nominate form; and the other’s plumage is more rufous and cinnamon colored.


The Reddish Scops Owl is small, reddish owl that measures about 19 – 20 cm in length, including the tail. It has conspicuous ear-tufts.

The upper plumage is cinnamon-brown with white and black spotting. The plumage below is plain rufous-buff with blackish spots. Their eyes (irises) are brown.

Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ??? … Czech: Výrecek cervenavý, výre?ek ?ervenavý … Danish: Rødlig Dværghornugle … Dutch: Rosse Dwergooruil … Estonian: malai päll … Finnish: Ruskopöllönen … French: Hibou rouge, Petit-duc rousstre … German: Röteleule, Rötliche Zwergohreule … Indonesian: Celepuk Merah … Italian: Assiolo rossastro, Assiolo rossiccio asiatico … Japanese: akachakonohazuku … Malay: Hantu Merah, Jampok Merah … Norwegian: Rustugle … Polish: syczek sundajski … Russian: ??????????? ?????, ????? ?????, ????? ????? … Slovak: výrik hrdzavý … Spanish: Autillo Rojizo, Autillo Rufo … Swedish: Gulröd dvärguv … Thai: ?????????

Web Resources

More Owl Information


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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