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Scientific Name:

Otus moheliensis

Population Status:


Body Length:

22 cm (8.7 in)





What makes a raptor a raptor?

Did you know?

  • The Moheli Scops Owl was only first described by science in 1998!

Though The Peregrine Fund is not working directly with Moheli Scops Owls, our conservation efforts through habitat protection, education, and community outreach extend to all raptor species, including this tiny owl. We also supply literature to researchers from our avian research library, which helps scientists around the world gather and share important information on raptor conservation.

If you can imagine a bird surviving in just 21 square kilometers (8.1 square miles) of rainforest at the very top of a mountain, you can imagine the Moheli Scops Owl. Endemic to the island of Moheli, on the Comoros Islands, and neighbor to the Anjouan Scops Owls, the Moheli Scops Owl prefers living in thick wet forest at altitudes from 450 to 790 m (2,590 ft). Or at least, that is what scientists first believed. More recent studies have turned up individual owls living in forests at sea level, and in more widespread areas across the island. As you can imagine this is good news for an owl that is only found on an island with a total surface area of 211 km2 (81 sq mi).

The Moheli Scops Owl is a small owl with yellowish eyes and a black beak. Some individuals are reddish in color and faintly streaked with dark bars. Others are brown and covered with more obvious streaking. The reason for this variation is because this species has two different color morphs, one rufous and one brown. The term color morph is used to describe individuals that are the same species but differ in appearance.

Like many owl species, the Moheli Scops Owl is nocturnal - meaning it flies, hunts and is generally active at night. It rests during daylight hours.

When you have very little space to live in to begin with, every little bit of habitat lost represents a major blow to your ability to find food, to nest and to just survive! This, sadly, is what the Moheli Scops Owl is experiencing as we speak. Its entire population is limited to one small island, where habitat destruction is occurring at a very fast pace. Scientists estimate the entire population numbers around 400 individuals and the future is quite uncertain for this small owl. To make matters worse, some introduced species, such as rats, might be predating on Moheli Scops Owl nests, making it hard for them to successfully raise young, and competing with them for food. Even so, it is currently listed as Endangered, rather than Critically Endangered, because of it is more widespread on the island than previously thought.

Though scientists have a lot to learn about Moheli Scops Owl diet, they believe that insects make up a large part of their diet.

Believe it or not, no information exists on the breeding or nesting behavior of the Moheli Scops Owl.

The World Center for Birds of Prey offers fun ways to learn about birds of prey. Interactive activities, tours, interesting videos and a children's room with activities from coloring sheets to quizzes to costumes await the curious visitor. Owls are included among the ambassador birds at the visitor center, including a Eurasian Eagle-owl and a Verraux's Eagle Owl, providing you with a wonderful opportunity to see owls up close and learn about the wonderful and interesting adaptations they have in order to survive in their respective habitats. There is also a touch table with owl feathers and other natural objects available for exploration.

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