Reddish Scops-owl Otus rufescens


Justification of Red List category
This forest-dependent species is listed as Near Threatened because its population is suspected to be in moderately rapid decline owing to the extensive loss of lowland forests from large areas of the Sundaic lowlands. It is not considered more threatened because it can use secondary habitats and occurs at higher elevations.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as rather rare (Konig et al. 1999).

Trend justification
Forest destruction in the Sundaic lowlands of Indonesia has been extensive, and the situation is little different in Thailand and Malaysia. However, the species's ability to persist in secondary growth and at higher elevations, where forest destruction has been less severe, suggests that its decline has been moderately rapid; less rapid than for many lowland primary forest specialists.

Distribution and population

Otus rufescens occurs in the Sundaic lowlands, from south peninsular Thailand, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Kalimantan, Sumatra (including Bangka Island) and Java, Indonesia and Brunei (BirdLife International 2001). It has also been reported from the Philippines, perhaps from islands offshore from Sabah. It seems to be generally rare throughout its range but is reported to be locally common in some areas. Overall, declines are assumed to be taking place owing to the extensive loss of forest in the region.


It occurs in primary and tall secondary forest, including logged forest and peat-swamp forest up to 1,000 m, but favours primary forest below 600 m. Nesting takes place in March-July.


Rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlands have been extremely rapid (Kalimantan lost nearly 25% of its evergreen forest during 1985-1997, and Sumatra lost almost 30% of its 1985 cover), because of a variety of factors, including the escalation of logging and land conversion, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber including those inside protected areas, plus forest fires (particularly in 1997-1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The species has been recorded from a number of protected areas throughout its range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Protect areas of lowland forest within the species's range. Enforce restrictions on agricultural encroachment and logging within such protected areas. Research is required to assess the species's dependence on primary habitats, generate density estimates to inform a revised population estimate for the species and estimate population trends by calculating rates of forest loss within its range using satellite imagery and remote sensing techniques.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Otus rufescens. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/reddish-scops-owl-otus-rufescens on 29/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 29/09/2023.