White-faced Scops Owl

scops owls


These nocturnal birds roost in trees or in thorny shrubs until dusk, when it is feeding time. Outside the breeding season, males and females often roost close to one another or in small groups. When night comes, the birds fly to a lookout point, swooping down to the ground when they spot their prey. White-faced scops owls often sing at dusk and before dawn.


Like other small owls, these birds primarily eat insects, like moths, crickets, beetles, scorpions, and spiders. They also hunt small birds and reptiles, as well as rodents and shrews. They swallow their prey whole, and regurgitate pellets at the roost.

Life Cycle

White-faced scops owls are territorial, and can be aggressive when outsiders intrude near their nests. At the start of courtship, males are very vocal, singing from various perches in their territories or at potential nesting sites. During the courtship period, a pair often duets, answering one another with songs and chirruping calls. The mated pairs make their nests in tree hollows and crevices, or reuse old stick nests built by larger birds in trees or bushes. Pairs may use their nest site for several years.

A female normally lays one clutch of two to three eggs. While she incubates the eggs over a period of about one month, her mate will deliver food to her in his bill. The chicks’ feathers grow in by 27 days of age and they can fly well by 32 days. Both parents continue to care for the young for at least 2 weeks after they fledge.

Some of My Neighbors

Aardvark, colobus monkeys, duikers, African eagle-owls, white-throated bee-eater, black and white casqued hornbill

Population Status & Threats

White-faced scops owl are fairly common but thinly distributed in many parts of their range. They are not considered threatened. Pesticide use and habitat loss do affect their survival.

WCS Conservation Efforts

WCS is helping to manage and create protected areas throughout the bird’s African habitat. WCS conservationists also work with local communities to find sustainable alternative livelihoods to logging trees where unique animals like the scops owl live.