email a friend
printable version
Giant Scops-owl Otus gurneyi
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This owl has a small population which is undergoing a rapid decline and severe fragmentation as a result of extensive deforestation. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Mimizuku gurneyi has been transferred to the genus Otus on the basis of the evidence presented in Miranda et al. (2011).

Mimizuku gurneyi (Tweeddale, 1879)

30 cm. Medium-sized owl with well-developed ear-tufts. Dark eyes. Rufescent facial disc outlined in black, conspicuous white eyebrows. Rufescent-brown crown and upperparts with darker shaft streaks, barred flight feathers and pale line on scapulars. Whitish underparts, washed rufous with bold black streaks. Similar spp. Larger than all sympatric Otus species, all of which lack such bold underpart streaking. Voice Loud wuaah repeated every 10-20 seconds in series of 5-10 calls.

Distribution and population
Otus gurneyi is endemic to the Philippines, where it is known from Dinagat, Siargao and Mindanao. It has a relatively widespread distribution on Mindanao, where it has been discovered at eight new sites since 1990. However, its status is uncertain and, although it is likely to be under-recorded, it is considered to be probably uncommon at best.

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, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Dinagat has been almost totally deforested and rates of deforestation on Samar and Mindanao have been rapid, with virtually all remaining forest leased to logging or mining concessions. Hence, the species is suspected to be declining rapidly.

It inhabits primary, secondary and selectively logged dipterocarp forests, primarily in the lowlands up to 670 m, with occasional records up to 1,300 m, including in mossy forest.

Its entire range has suffered extensive lowland deforestation. In 1988, forest cover had been reduced to an estimated 29% on Mindanao and in 1992 no more than 724 km2 of closed-canopy forest remained on Samar. These figures are likely to be overestimates, with most remaining lowland forest tracts leased to logging concessions and mining applications. Dinagat has been almost entirely deforested as a result of illegal logging and chromite surface-mining.

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and II. It occurs in several protected areas, including Mt Apo and Mt Kitanglad Natural Parks and Siargao Island. There are older records from Mt Hilong-hilong Watershed Reserve and Mt Matutum Forest Reserve, which has been proposed as a national park. In the 1990s, it featured on a bilingual environmental awareness poster in the "Only in the Philippines" series. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct nocturnal surveys, using voice playback, to establish presence/absence in poorly surveyed areas of Mindanao (e.g. Mts Three Kings, Diwata and Dapiak) and Samar. Conduct more intensive fieldwork to assess abundance, elevational range and habitat requirements at key sites. Promote improved protection of remaining forest at the sites listed above and campaign for a protected area in south Mindanao to encompass the cluster of sites with recent records.

Collar, N. J.; Mallari, N. A. D.; Tabaranza, B. R. J. 1999. Threatened birds of the Philippines: the Haribon Foundation/BirdLife International Red Data Book. Bookmark, Makati City.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Derhé, M., Lowen, J., Peet, N.

Collar, N.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Otus gurneyi. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Giant scops-owl (Otus gurneyi) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Strigidae (Typical Owls)
Species name author (Tweeddale, 1879)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 95,600 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species