Sula Scops-owl Otus sulaensis


Justification of Red List Category
This newly split species is listed as Near Threatened because it is thought to have a small and declining population, which nevertheless occurs in four islands, potentially reducing its risk of extinction.

Population justification
The global population size has not been formally quantified, but the species is described as common and frequently encountered (Davidson et al. 1995, Stones et al. 1997, Rheindt 2010). It is preliminarily estimated to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, probably occurring in several sub-populations.

Trend justification
Although this species shows a substantial tolerance of modified habitats, it is inferred to be in decline as a result of on-going and unfavourable land-use change, including the complete destruction of areas of suitable habitat.

Distribution and population

Otus sulaensis is endemic to the Sula Islands, including Taliabu, Scho, Mongole and Sanana, Indonesia (König and Weick 2008), where it is described as common and frequently encountered (Davidson et al. 1995, Stones et al. 1997, Rheindt 2010).


It inhabits primary forest, disturbed, selectively-logged and heavily degraded forest, and swamps with trees and bushes, from sea-level to 1,100 m, but mostly in the lowlands (Davidson et al. 1995, Stones et al. 1997, König and Weick 2008, Rheindt 2010).


Despite its tolerance of modified habitats, the species is thought to be threatened by habitat loss. In the 1990s, it was reported that a substantial proportion of Taliabu was still forested, but that since 1970 large-scale logging of lowland forest had taken place, principally selective logging but also clear-felling of some areas (Davidson et al. 1995). It was also reported that most forest below 800 m was under logging concession and that other threats to forest included the expansion of shifting and permanent agriculture (Davidson et al. 1995). Following a visit in 2009, Rheindt (2010) speculated that all primary forest could have been lost from Taliabu due to the widespread activities of logging companies, with some areas converted to plantations, cultivation and gardens and further conversion to agriculture expected. In addition, forest fires have severely reduced and degraded montane forest on Taliabu (Rheindt 2010).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to assess the total population size. Study the species's ecology and population structure. Monitor land-use change in the species's range. Protect areas of suitable habitat.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Otus sulaensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/03/2023.