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Nicobar Scops-owl Otus alius
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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.
Rasmussen, P. C. 1998. A new scops-owl from Great Nicobar Island. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 118: 141-153.

Taxonomic note
Otus scops (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into O. senegalensis following Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), O. sunia following AOU (1998), O. alius following Rassmussen (1998) and O. scops (with s

Distribution and population
Otus alius is known from two specimens collected at Campbell Bay on Great Nicobar (BirdLife International 2001), and one bird trapped and photographed in March 2003 on Teressa Island (P. Rasmussen in litt. 2005) in the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, India. It may occur on other islands in the group, particularly Little Nicobar, and is perhaps restricted in range on Great Nicobar. The other more northerly islands of the group have been well surveyed without evidence of its presence. As threats to its presumed habitat of coastal forest have increased following the devastating 2004 tsunami the species may require uplisting on a precautionary basis based on predicted future declines in habitat.

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified, but it is considered likely to be rare.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Virtually nothing is known of its ecology. The paratype was found in coastal forest (presumably at sea-level) c.1 km from the shore. It is thought likely to be a sedentary resident. Of the two birds collected, one individual was said to have eaten a spider and beetle, and the other had consumed a gecko (König and Weick 2008).

Specific threats are unknown, but loss of coastal forest is a problem on Great Nicobar, owing to clearance and conversion for agriculture (particularly coconut, banana and cashew plantations and rice cultivation), road development projects (which threaten to fragment habitat blocks, particularly on Great Nicobar), and expansion of human settlements. The devastating tsunami of 26th December 2004 may have affected large parts of its breeding habitat, and the aftermath of the tsunami has exacerbated the existing pressures on coastal forest habitat, with many homeless people raising plantation crops to generate revenue and building houses in littoral forests (K. Sivakumar in litt. 2005). The proposal to develop Great Nicobar as a free-trade port, a potentially major threat, appears unlikely to be realised in the near future (K. Sivakumar in litt. 2005).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The whole of Great Nicobar is a Biosphere Reserve, within which there are two National Parks, Campbell Bay and Galatea. Furthermore, designation of most of the Nicobar islands as tribal areas legally prohibits commercial exploitation of natural resources and settlement or ownership of land by non-tribals. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys on Great Nicobar (and then Little Nicobar) using tape-playback to determine presence/absence, and where possible estimate densities of the species in various habitats across the islands. Carry out research into the impacts of potential threats to the species.

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

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1999. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 5: Barn-owls to Hummingbirds. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

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., Davidson, P., Peet, N., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Tobias, J.

Sivakumar, K., Rasmussen, P.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Otus alius. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Data Deficient
Family Strigidae (Typical Owls)
Species name author Rasmussen, 1998
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 970 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species