Marsh Owl Asio capensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be locally common (del Hoyo et al. 1999; König & Weick 2008).

Trend justification
The population in Morocco is declining due to habitat loss and disturbance (König & Weick 2008). However, this subpopulation represents a very small proportion of the global population, therefore the overall trend is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.


The species is vulnerable to loss of habitat due to dry season fires and habitat degradation driven by grazing and harvesting material for thatch (Olsen 1999). Nests are vulnerable to fire, livestock trampling, flooding and predators including mongooses (Herpestidae) whilst adults may be killed by traffic or by colliding with barbed wire fencing (Olsen 1999). The species may also be affected by the use of pesticides (König & Weick 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation actions underway
The species is listed on CITES Appendix II and Raptors MoU Category 3. It is monitored in at least parts of its range by the International Waterbird Census (>10 records received in >50% of the years that the census has been running in the relevant region). 

Conservation actions needed
Very little is known about population size or trends of this species, therefore further research is needed to allow for a more thorough assessment of extinction risk.


Text account compilers
Haskell, L.

Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J & Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Asio capensis. Downloaded from on 27/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/03/2023.