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A photo of a Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops)
Eurasian Scops Owl

Eurasian Scops Owl

Otus scops

The Eurasian scops owl, Otus scops, is a diminutive member of the Strigidae family, often referred to as the European scops owl or simply scops owl. With a modest stature, it measures between 19 to 21 centimeters in length and boasts a wingspan of 47 to 54 centimeters. This species is characterized by its upright perching and the presence of small ear-tufts. Its plumage is predominantly a subtle grey-brown, accented by a paler face, underparts, and a distinctive shoulder line.

Identification Tips

When observing the Eurasian scops owl, look for its small size, comparable to that of the little owl, Athene noctua. Note the ear-tufts, which are less pronounced than those of other tufted owl species. Its flight is strong and direct, facilitated by long, narrow wings that are an adaptation to its migratory nature.

Habitat

This owl favors open woodlands, parks, and gardens for its breeding grounds. It seeks out nesting sites that may include tree holes or even old nests of other bird species, such as crows.

Distribution

The Eurasian scops owl's breeding range spans from southern Europe to southern Siberia and the western Himalayas. It is a migratory bird, spending winters in Africa, south of the Sahara. Sightings are rare beyond its breeding range, particularly to the north.

Behaviour

The Eurasian scops owl is predominantly nocturnal, engaging in its hunting activities under the cover of darkness.

Song & Calls

Both sexes emit a deep, whistled call, reminiscent of the sound made by midwife toads of the genus Alytes. This call is a key identifier, particularly during the breeding season.

Breeding

During the breeding season, the female lays a clutch of typically 4 or 5 white eggs, each measuring 31 by 27 millimeters and weighing around 13 grams. The incubation, solely the female's responsibility, lasts approximately 24-25 days. Post-hatching, both parents are involved in caring for and feeding the young. The fledglings leave the nest at 21-29 days old and gain independence from their parents between 30-40 days of age.

Similar Species

The Eurasian scops owl may be confused with other small owls with ear-tufts, but its size, flight pattern, and distinctive call help differentiate it from its relatives.

Diet and Feeding

Its diet consists mainly of small insects and other invertebrates, which it hunts during the night.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List currently classifies the Eurasian scops owl as Least Concern, indicating a stable population without significant immediate threats to its survival.

Eurasian Scops Owl Sounds


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