The Owl Pages

Giant Scops Owl ~ Otus gurneyi (Mimizuku gurneyi)


The Giant Scops Owl is a relatively large brown owl with long, slightly curved ear-tufts. It is also known as the Lesser Eagle Owl or the Mindanao Owl. Some authors place this owl in its own genus Mimizuku.

Photo Gallery (2 pictures)

  • Giant Scops Owl
  • Giant Scops Owl

Sound Gallery

Typical call - Mindanao, Philippines. April 2010. CC George Wagner.


Description: The facial disc is pale rufous-brown, with a thin rim consisting of black spots. The eyebrows are frosty white, fading into buffish. Eyes are brown, and the bill is greenish-yellow to greyish-white. Ear-tufts are long with black spots. The forehead and crown are streaked black.
Upperparts are dark rufous-brown with blackish shaft-streaks. The outer webs of the scapulars are whitish-buff with blackish edges. The wing-coverts are dark brown with black shaft-streaks. The flight and tail feathers are banded dark and light.
Underparts are whitish-buff, becoming creamy-white on the belly. The breast has large oval or drop-shaped black spots.
Tarsi are feathered to the base of the toes, which are pale greyish-brown. Claws are pale horn with dark tips.

Size: Length 30-35cm. Wing length 217-274mm. Tail length 114-149mm. No weight data available. Females are larger than males.

Habits: The Giant Scops Owl is a nocturnal bird. Little else is known about its behaviour.

Voice: A coarse mournful "Wuaah" note repeated at 10-20 second intervals.

Hunting & Food: Probably feeds on small mammals and birds, as well as large insects.

Breeding: Virtually nothing is known of this owl's breeding biology. They are known to be more vocally active from February to May.

Habitat: Lowland rainforest and secondary growth, from sea-level to about 1500m. Has also been found in small groves in grassland.

Distribution: Southern Philippines - Mindanao, Siargao and Dinagat. Also found more recently on Samar.

Range of Giant Scops Owl (Otus gurneyi)
Range of the Giant Scops Owl Otus gurneyi

Status: Listed as Vulnerable by Birdlife International.

Original Description: Tweeddale, Arthur Hay, 9th, Marquis of. 1879. Proceedings of the Scientific meetings of the Zoological Society of London for the year 1878 (PZS): Pt 4, p. 940, pl. 58.

References: (may contain affiliate links)
Allen, Desmond. 2013. "Giant Scops Owl Otus [Mimizuku] gurneyi restored to the Samar avifauna". BirdingASIA.
BirdLife International. 2020. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". IUCN.
Boyer and Hume. 1991. "Owls of the World". BookSales Inc.
del Hoyo, Elliott & Sargatal. 1999. "Handbook of the Birds of the World: Barn Owls to Hummingbirds". Buteo Books.
Duncan, James R.. 2003. "Owls of the World: Their Lives, Behavior and Survival". Firefly Books.
International Ornithological Congress. 2023. "IOC World Bird List - Owls".
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press.
Otus gurneyi at Xeno-canto.

See also: Other owls from Asia, Genus: Otus.

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2020-10-02. Copyright Information.