Sunda Scops Owl (Otus lempiji)
Sungei Buloh, 28th November 2013

Ants made quick work of this carcass of a Sunda Scops Owl. The last photo shows the same carcass 4 days later.

Asian scops owls have had a confusing taxonomic history. For many years, various populations of scops owls distributed across India and Pakistan to South East Asia, Japan and the Philippines were identified as a single species, called the Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena). However, various subspecies were subsequently split off and recognised as distinct species; one such subspecies would become known as the Sunda Scops Owl. These days, Otus bakkamoena refers strictly to the Indian Scops Owl, found in the Indian subcontinent, while the common name of Collared Scops Owl belongs to Otus lettia, which was split off and represents populations found from the Himalayas to China and Indochina. This is why some resources still list the Sunda Scops Owl as a subspecies of Indian Scops Owl, which is given the common name of Collared Scops Owl.

As if things weren’t confusing enough, some sources consider the Collared Scops Owl and Sunda Scops Owl to be conspecific, whereas other authors split the Sunda Scops Owl even further, and recognise the subspecies found in southern Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore (Otus lempiji cnephaeus) as a separate species, the Singapore Scops Owl (Otus cnephaeus).

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