Collared Scops Owl: A failed nesting

posted in: Nesting-failed, Owls | 1

Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) is a common resident. It is a small, stocky owl that got its name from the pale collar across the hind-neck. It is typically a nocturnal bird but during the daytime it can occasionally be seen dust and water bathing.

The nest is a tree-hole or hollow stump-top, usually 3-9 m up, devoid of any lining. It usually lays two near-spherical eggs – inside a cavity nest there is no danger of the eggs rolling off. The chicks are hatched blind and with a sparse covering of down. A second, thicker covering of down develops soon after.


In late March 2007 a nest was located in an old angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus) when some pruning work was conducted on the tree in Mount Faber. The incubating bird suddenly flew off, thus exposing its nest site. The bird was nesting in a shallow cavity formed where the main branches develop from the top of the trunk. The image on the left shows the bird well camouflaged in the nest.

Because of the inaccessibility of the nest, it was decided not to document the stages.

Richard Nai of The Jewel Box kept a lookout of the owls and reported their presence throughout most of April. However, towards the end of the month the parent birds were not seen. It rained almost every day and there was the possibility of the nest being flooded.

The birds did not return subsequently and the landscaping workers managed to retrieve a single egg in a semi-flooded cavity.


The egg is near-spherical, white, plain, smooth and matt. It measures 34 x 29 mm (right top). There is a dead embryo inside, at an advanced stage of development, with traces of early down (right bottom).

Well, not every nesting ends in a success story. A high percentage fails, due to disturbance, weather conditions, egg predation, death of parental birds, etc.

Dr. Fazalur Rahman Mallick discovered the nesting; Richard Nai and Priscilla Pey of The Jewel Box provided progress reports and retrieved the damaged egg.

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