Monday, 16 July 2012

Collared Scops Owl

There are 2 species of owls residing in and around my house. Few weeks ago, as I was strolling through the garden at night, I heard the deep familiar "hoop" call of the less normally seen species of the two, the Collared Scops Owl (Otus lettia), coming from somewhere beyond my house's fence. In contrast to the soft and deep "hoop" call, the Asian Barred Owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides bruegeli), the other species of owls that can be found in my garden, has a very loud shrieking call and a long series of eerie thrilling song. The Asian Barred Owlet is also much more vocal, even during the day, so it's obvious that I get to see it much more often. I first got a chance to photograph the Collared Scops Owl last year in September, only few shots before it flew away into the night. Photos from last year can be seen here in my old blog.

The furious look of the cute Collared Scops Owl

I was impressed with the size of its legs.

This is the more rufous individual.

The first night that I heard the call of the Collared Scops Owl took me almost an hour to lure out the bird. Surprisingly, there were more than 2 individuals in the garden! Two birds responded well to the playback, while another was only heard calling. Of course, I also had to bear in mind that I need to be careful when using playback, since owls can be territorial and once they feel too uncomfortable, they'd end up leaving the area. Obviously, I don't want them to move away from my garden, so I tried to limit the use of the playback as much as possible.

Notice its lowered ear tufts

I later made some sketches of both individuals in my sketch book.

It was also interesting to observe the differences between the 2 individuals that were putting on a show. One of which was more curious and often appeared right in front of me, slightly moving its cute rounded head while observing me. It was also giving a weird high-pitched, nasal call, totally different from the one I've always heard. It was the first time for me to learn that it can also make this kind of call. I guess it's some kind of a contact call. The other individual was more careful and would always leave a good distance from me. It just kept calling from a high jackfruit tree next to my house. This individual was slightly more rufous, especially on the face and underparts. It also only gave the deep "hoop" call. I wonder if all these differences have something to do with sex or age, but there's almost no way to be sure unless I have them in hand.


  1. Must be great to have Owls so close. Nice photos and very nice illustrations.

  2. Great sketches.... and photos, too. Nice to have the owls so close...

  3. Ayuwat, I really envy you. Owling from the comforts of home. Beautiful images by the way.

  4. Wonderful sketches and photos too. Very interesting how the tarsus is so heavy and wide. Guess the owl is less cute than it looks and with such powereful legs can take quite big prey?

  5. Beautiful owls and so wonderfully captured into images. I love owls so much but I'm lucky to see one a year. Lucky you!