African Scops Owl

Scientific Name:
Otus senegalensis
Sub-Saharan Africa

About the African Scops Owl

The African Scops Owl (Otus senegalensis) is a small owl species native to sub-Saharan Africa, known for its distinct appearance and haunting call.


African Scops Owls are typically found in a variety of woodland habitats, including savannahs, open forests, riverine forests, and even urban areas with sufficient tree cover. They prefer areas with scattered trees and dense vegetation, which provide suitable roosting and nesting sites, as well as ample prey such as insects and small rodents.


African Scops Owls are relatively small owls, measuring around 19 to 21 centimeters (7.5 to 8.3 inches) in length. They have a compact build with short tails, rounded wings, and prominent ear tufts or "ear" feathers, which give them their characteristic appearance. Their plumage can vary in color from greyish-brown to reddish-brown, with intricate patterns and markings that provide excellent camouflage against tree bark.

Best Viewing

African Scops Owls are nocturnal birds, meaning they are most active during the night. The best time to view them is during the early evening or late at night when they become active and vocalise. Look for them perched on tree branches, where they blend in remarkably well with their surroundings. Their distinctive "whinnying" or whistling call, resembling the sound of a horse or a bouncing ball, can help locate them in the darkness.