Otus scops , Photo: Michael Lahanas
Otus scops (Linnaeus, 1758)
Systema Naturae ed.10 p.92
Otus scops (*)
The European Scops Owl (Otus scops), also known as the Eurasian Scops Owl or just Scops Owl, is a small owl. This species is a part of the larger grouping of owls known as typical owls, Strigidae, which contains most species of owl. The other grouping is the barn owls, Tytonidae. This bird breeds in southern Europe eastwards into western and central Asia. It is migratory, wintering in southernmost Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. It is rare any distance north of its breeding range, usually occurring as a spring overshoot. It is unlikely that this nocturnal owl would be found outside the breeding season when it is not calling.
It breeds in open woodland, parks and gardens. It lays 3-6 eggs in a tree hole. This is a small owl, and at 19–21 centimetres (7.5–8.3 in) length and a 47–54 centimetres (19–21 in) wingspan is not as large as the Little Owl. It takes small prey such as insects and other invertebrates. It is largely nocturnal.
The Scops Owl perches upright and shows small ear tufts. It is predominantly grey-brown in colour, with paler face, underparts and shoulder line. This species has a strong direct flight on long narrow wings, reflecting its migratory habits. The call is a deep whistle given by both sexes. It is similar to the call of the Midwife Toad.
* BirdLife International (2004). Otus scops. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
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