White-fronted Scops-owl Otus sagittatus


Justification of Red List Category
This poorly known species has a small, rapidly declining, severely fragmented population which is dependent on lowland or foothill forest, much of which has been destroyed or degraded within its range. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Forest loss throughout this species's range has been rapid; hence, this forest specialist is suspected to be declining rapidly as well. However, the species remains very poorly known and more accurate studies are required.

Distribution and population

Otus sagittatus is known from Tenasserim, Myanmar, south-west Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia (BirdLife International 2001). It appears to be locally distributed and scarce throughout its range. However, its true status is unclear as it is difficult to detect and it may be more common than records suggest; and it has been recently reported from forest in Johor, Peninsula Malaysia, which would represent a significant southerly range extension (D. Bakewell in litt. 2016).


It is resident and nocturnal in old-growth and regenerating evergreen or mixed deciduous forests of level lowlands and hill-slopes to at least 700 m. Limited mist-netting data indicates that it sometimes frequents dense or open lower storeys of mature forest, but may not inhabit recently logged forest. In Malaysia and Thailand, the breeding season is apparently February-March. Insects, chiefly moths, are its only documented food items.


If this species is a lowland forest specialist, extensive lowland forest loss, degradation and fragmentation, primarily through logging, development and conversion for agriculture, pose the greatest threats across its range.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It occurs in several protected areas, including Kaeng Krachan National Park, Huai Kha Khaeng, Khlong Saeng, Hala-Bala and Khao Banthad Wildlife Sanctuaries, Thailand and Pasoh Forest Reserve, Malaysia. It probably occurs in the recently established Myinmoletkat Biosphere Reserve, Myanmar.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct playback and mist-netting surveys across its range to establish its distribution, status and habitat requirements. Afford effective protection to all forest in relevant protected areas. Campaign for reduced deforestation of lowlands in southern Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.


27-29 cm. Medium-sized, long-tailed scops-owl. Dark rufous to rufous-chestnut upperside, broad whitish forehead-patch and eyebrows, extending to ear-tufts. Underparts have dark vermiculations, white markings and dark spots. Bluish-white bill, dark brown iris. Similar spp. Reddish Scops-owl O. rufescens is smaller, darker with dark bars on primaries. Voice A hollow, monotone, whistled hoooo has been attributed to it, but it appears to call rarely.


Text account compilers
Bird, J., Tobias, J., Taylor, J., Westrip, J., Peet, N., Benstead, P., Davidson, P.

Bakewell, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Species factsheet: Otus sagittatus. Downloaded from on 21/09/2018. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2018) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/09/2018.