Réunion owl

The Réunion owl (Otus grucheti), also known as the Réunion scops owl or Réunion lizard owl, was a small owl that occurred on the Mascarene island of Réunion, but became extinct before any living birds were described; it is only known from subfossil bones. One of the three Mascarene owls, it was formerly classified in the genus Mascarenotus, and most likely was similar to a long-eared owl in size and appearance, but with nearly naked legs. However, according to recent studies, it and its relatives belong to the genus Otus, and is likely descended from the Otus sunia lineage.[2]

Réunion owl

Extinct (late 17th century?) (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Otus
O. grucheti
Binomial name
Otus grucheti
Mourer-Chauviré, Bour, Moutou & Ribes, 1994

Compared to the Mauritius owl and the Rodrigues owl, it was the most terrestrial species of the genus, with long legs and possibly somewhat reduced flight capability; more probably though it was simply smaller than the Mauritius bird – between that species and the one from Rodrigues in size – but had equally long legs: the only suitable food available in quantity on Réunion were small birds. It can be assumed to have preyed on sleeping songbirds in the manner of the unrelated but convergent Grallistrix "stilt-owls" from Hawaii.


As the bird is not mentioned by any contemporary report, it was either very secretive or became extinct earlier than its congeners. Notably, it is not contained in the comprehensive listing of local fauna that Dubois made in 1671–72. At that time, the only introduced predators were pigs. Inferring from the local ecology, it is likely that the birds succumbed to predation by rats and perhaps also cats as they must have been flight worthy enough to avoid the pigs, and thus only became extinct after Dubois' visit, at some date closer to the year 1700.[citation needed] If the bird was ground-nesting, however, it might have been extinct even by the time Dubois did not record it, but this hypothesis does not seem to agree what can be inferred from the rather long survival of its Mauritius relative.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Mascarenotus grucheti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ "IOC World Bird List 11.1". IOC World Bird List Datasets. doi:10.14344/ioc.ml.11.1. Retrieved 2022-01-31.
  • Mourer-Chauviré, Cécile; Bour, Roger; Moutou, François & Ribes, Sonia (1994): Mascarenotus nov. gen. (Aves, Strigiformes), genre endémique éteint des Mascareignes et M. grucheti n. sp., espèce éteinte de La Réunion. C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris sér. II 318: 1699–1706.