Mindanao scops-owl -- 棉兰角鸮 (Otus mirus)

Mindanao scops-owl
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Mindanao scops-owl fact file

Mindanao scops-owl description

GenusOtus (1)

The Latin name mirus, meaning unusual or striking, is a reference to the Mindanao scops-owl’s bold markings (4). The owl’s greyish-brown head and upperparts are heavily marked with blackish streaks and blotches, and the whitish underparts are interlaced with a criss-crossed pattern of fine and heavy black lines. At the back of the neck a row of white spots form a distinct collar, and the whitish feathers at the shoulders form two prominent white lines. The ear tufts are reasonably small and whitish, the eyes are brownish-yellow and the bill is greenish-grey (2) (4). The Mindanao scops-owl’s call is said to resemble that of a pigeon or dove, and consists of two soft double notes (2).

Otus scops mirus.
Autillo de Mindanao.
Length: 19 – 20 cm (2)

Mindanao scops-owl biology

Little is known about this species’ biology at present (5). Like many of the smaller, forest-dwelling scops-owl species, it probably spends the day concealed in the trees, camouflaged by its heavily patterned plumage, and emerges at dusk to feed on insects and possibly larger prey items (7).


Mindanao scops-owl range

The Mindanao scops-owl is endemic to the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, where it has been recorded at four sites: Mount Hilong-hilong, Mount Apo, Mount Kitanglad and Lake Sebu (5).


Mindanao scops-owl habitat

The Mindanao scops-owl occupies high-elevation mountain rainforest (6).


Mindanao scops-owl status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Mindanao scops-owl threats

Logging, mining and clearance for agriculture are major threats to Mindanao’s forests, and even though sites such as Mount Apo and Mount Kitangland are classified as National Parks, these activities continue illegally (5). The Mindanao scops-owl’s restricted range and apparent rarity place it in a vulnerable position, but fortunately it is a resident of the mountains’ higher elevations where detrimental human activities are much less common (6). Nevertheless, with resources at lower elevations becoming scarcer, without a change in protected area management, inevitably the Mindanao scops-owl’s habitat will become targeted for exploitation (5).


Mindanao scops-owl conservation

Through the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS), Philippine protected areas are currently being redeveloped, and new protected sites are being designated that will benefit from improved management and enforcement of regulations (8). In order to ensure that the Mindanao scops-owl is effectively protected under this new system, surveys of its population and research into its biology must be undertaken (5). This may help influence which areas receive protection, and inform management strategies that could benefit this striking owl.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To learn more about the current status and conservation of Philippine forests visit:



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A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2008)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1999) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 5: Barn-Owls to Hummingbirds. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (November, 2008)
  4. Ripley, S.D. and Rabor, D.S. (1968) Two new subspecies of birds from the Philippines and comments on the validity of two others. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 81: 1 - 36.
  5. BirdLife International (November, 2008)
  6. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
  7. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  8. BirdLife International. (2003) Saving Asia's Threatened Birds: a Guide for Government and Civil Society. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available at:

Image credit

Mindanao scops-owl  
Mindanao scops-owl

© Leif Gabrielsen

Leif Gabrielsen


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