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Ryukyu Scops-owl Otus elegans

Justification
This species occurs on a number of small islands and has a very small global range which is under pressure from habitat conversion. However, the species is not regarded as severely fragmented or restricted to a few locations, thus it is listed as Near Threatened.

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.

Distribution and population
Otus elegans is found on the Nansei Shoto islands and Minami-daito-jima island, southern Japan, on Lanyu Island, off south-east Taiwan (China), and on the Batanes and Babuyan islands off northern Luzon in the Philippines (BirdLife International 2001). It is common wherever suitable habitat remains on the Nansei Shoto, and is presumed to have quite a large population there. The population that persisted on Kita-daito is apparently extinct but 245 territorial males were estimated on adjacent Minami-daito during the 2005 breeding season (Takagi et al. 2007). It has a population estimated at c.1,000 birds on Lanyu Island, and it has been described as fairly common on the Batanes and Babuyan islands. However, its range must have been much reduced and fragmented in the Philippines by deforestation, although its population it thought to be stable on Lanyu Island and its prospects for survival there are good so long as suitable habitat is protected. It is presumably also relatively secure on the Nansei Shoto, but its extirpation from Kita-daito highlights it vulnerability to extensive forest clearance (the island is almost entirely under cultivation now).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as common on Nansei-shoto. The total population on Lanyu is estimated to be 150-230 individuals (Konig et al. 1999), while other national population sizes have been estimated at c.100-100,000 breeding pairs in Taiwan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Japan (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in slow decline owing to on-going but limited habitat loss and degradation.

Ecology
It occurs in subtropical evergreen forest, and locally in or near to villages, from sea-level to 550 m or higher. It feeds on a range of arthropods and will take small mammals and small birds. Eggs are laid in March-July.

Threats
The species has likely been impacted by forest clearance (leading to its extirpation on Kita-daito [Takagi et al. 2007]), and studies have shown that suburban owls may not live as long as those in forest, suggesting forest is optimal habitat.

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The species has also been the focus of specific study, improving knowledge of its life history and potential threats. Conservation Actions Proposed
Protect areas of remaining forest in different parts of its range to ensure that all subspecies are represented. Monitor threats to the species.

References
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

König, C.; Weick, F.; Becking, J.-H. 1999. Owls: a guide to the owls of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, U.K.

König, C.; Weick, F.; Becking, J.-H. 1999. Owls: a guide to the owls of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, U.K.

Takagi, M.; Akatani, K.; Saito, A.; Matsui, S. 2007. Drastic decline of territorial male Daito Scops Owls on Minami-daito Island in 2006. Ornithological Science 6(1): 39-42.

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. & Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Otus elegans. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/12/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/12/2014.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Strigidae (Typical Owls)
Species name author (Cassin, 1852)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 4,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species