Tuesday 21 May
Sao Tome scops-owl (Otus hartlaubi)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Sao Tome scops-owl fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Sao Tome scops-owl description
This small owl, named after the only island it inhabits, has warm reddish-brown plumage with indistinct, fine reddish markings and black streaks. The underparts are lighter but are boldly streaked with black and have brown, rufous and white markings. The tail bears narrow buff coloured bars and the feathers on the shoulders are adorned with white spots tipped with black. The rounded face, typical of all owls, is also a light reddish-brown, with a white chin, white ‘eyebrows’ and tiny ear tufts (2). The sharp, hooked bill and large, forward-facing eyes are yellow, and are both adaptations for hunting and capturing prey (2) (4). The São Tomé scops-owl calls with a high-pitched ‘hu-hu-hu’ or a low, harsh ‘kowe’ (2)
- Petit-duc de Sao Tomé.
- Autillo de Santo Tomé.
Sao Tome scops-owl biology
The São Tomé scops-owl is a largely nocturnal bird, but it may also sometimes be active during the day when not roosting in tree cavities amongst dense foliage (2) (5). It is thought that breeding takes place between August and October, just before the start of the short rains (2). Nesting taking place in a tree cavity or possibly on the ground (5), and São Tomé scops-owl fledglings have been observed in October (2).
Insects make up the majority of this owl’s diet, particularly grasshoppers, beetles and moths, but small lizards are also sometimes eaten (2). It forages in the dense vegetation of the lower parts of the forest, dropping down onto its prey from a perch, plucking it from foliage, or snatching it from the air whilst in flight. Only occasionally does the São Tomé scops-owl descend to the ground (2).Top
Sao Tome scops-owl rangeTop
Sao Tome scops-owl habitatTop
Sao Tome scops-owl statusTop
Sao Tome scops-owl threats
Following human colonisation, vast swathes of forest on São Tomé were cleared to make space for sugar cane, coffee and cocoa plantations. By the early 1900s, São Tomé was the largest cocoa producer in the world, with an estimated 42 percent of the island given over to growing cocoa (6). Luckily for the wildlife, this situation did not last and a crash in cocoa prices saw many plantations abandoned and revert into secondary forest (6).
Today however, habitat loss again poses a threat to the São Tomé scops-owl. The privatisation of land has led to an increase in the number of small farms and the clearance of trees (7), and areas of both primary and secondary forest face the potential threats of agricultural development and an increased demand for timber (6). Previously remote areas of forest have been made more vulnerable by the construction of roads along the east and west coasts of the island, which increase access to these forests (7). In addition, competition from the common barn-owl (Tyto alba) and predation by cats may be impacting populations of this threatened bird (2).Top
Sao Tome scops-owl conservation
The protection of forest on São Tomé appears to be an essential measure for the survival of the island’s endemic scops-owl. A National Park and a Zona Ecologica (Ecological Zone) have been proposed, but without ratification these areas remain worryingly unprotected. Similarly, a law for the protection of threatened species on São Tomé awaits final approval (7). In the meantime, further research on this species’ biology and ecology is required (2) (7), which will help inform any future conservation measures.Top
Find out more
For further information on the conservation of owls see:
- World Owl Trust:
For more information on this and other bird species please see:
- BirdLife International:
AuthenticationThis information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: email@example.comTop
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Active at night.
- Primary forest
- Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
- Secondary forest
- Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
- IUCN Red List (April, 2008)
- 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.
- CITES (May, 2007)
- Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
- Duncan, J.R. (2003) Owls of the World: Their Lives, Behavior and Survival. Key Porter Books, Toronto, Canada.
- Peet, N.B. and Atkinson, P.W. (1994) The biodiversity and conservation of the birds of São Tomé and Príncipe. Biodiversity and Conservation, 3: 851 - 867.
- BirdLife International (April, 2008)
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.