Backyard Birds

Serendib Scops Owl

The Serendib Scops Owl (Otus thilohoffmanni) is the most recently discovered bird in Sri Lanka.

It was originally located by its unfamiliar poo-ooo call in the Kitulgala rainforest by prominent Sri Lankan owls and birder Deepal Warakagoda.

Six years later, it was finally seen by him on 23 January 2001 in Sinharaja and formally described as a species new to science in 2004 (Warakagoda and Rasmussen 2004).

Apart from Sinharaja and Kitulgala, it has also been met at Ranakanda Reserve in Morapitiya, and Eratna Gilimale.

It is the first new bird to be discovered in Sri Lanka since 1868, when the Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) Whistling Thrush Myophonus blighi was discovered. It is also the 24th (according to some authorities the 27th) endemic bird species for Sri Lanka.

This rare species inhabits the rainforests in the southwestern sector of Sri Lanka.

Like most owls, it is strictly nocturnal and hunts insects (e.g. beetles and moths) close to the ground.

Calls / Vocalization

It begins calling at dusk, its frequency rising again some two hours before dawn.


Unlike the other two species of scops owl in Sri Lanka, viz. Indian Scops Owl Otus bakkamoena and Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia, do not have ear tufts, and their facial disc is only weakly defined.

The general color of this 16.5 cm long short-tailed owl is reddish brown with paler underparts, spotted all over with black.

The irises are yellow and the feet and claws are white.

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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