Otus scops Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: Eurasian Scops Owl, European scops owl, Scops owl [En], Petit-duc scops, Hibou petit-duc [Fr], Dwergooruil [Nl], Zwergohreule [De], Assiolo eurasiatico [It], Autillo Europeo [Es], Γκιώνης [Gr], İshak kuşu [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Kalloni, LESVOS ● Greece
Description: This is a small owl, and at 19–21 cm in length and a 47–54 cm wingspan is not as large as the little owl. 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.
Biology: The call is a deep whistle given by both sexes. It is similar to the call of the midwife toad. It is largely nocturnal.
It feeds mainly on insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, moths and cicadas. Spiders, caterpillars and earthworms are also taken, as well as small vertebrates such as small mammals, small birds, reptiles and frogs. They are often attracted to artificial lighting to capture moths and other insects that have settled nearby by swooping on them.
For migrating populations, breeding season starts on return from winter quarters. For resident populations, such as southern Spain, the season starts in February. Males begin by calling on calm nights. The female answers and the birds start duetting. Mating is frequent after such duets. The male then flies to a potential nest cavity, enters and sings from the opening. Once the female has inspected and accepted the cavity, the pair will remain close by every evening. Nest sites include natural cavities in trees, rocks or walls, woodpecker holes in tree trunks or thick branches, or holes in steep banks of ditches or sandpits, even under roofs. Nestboxes are also accepted.
There is usually only one brood per year. Egg laying begins from late April or May to the first half of June, sometimes July. Normally 3-4 (sometimes 2-6) white eggs are laid directly on the bottom of the cavity at two day intervals. The eggs hatch after 20-31 days, depending on climate. The female broods and feeds the young for about 18 days. At 3-4 weeks, the young leave the nest, landing on the ground and climbing up into trees or bushes by using their bill and claws, and flutter with their wings. At about 33 days, they are fully capable of flight. They are cared for and fed by both parents for a further 4-5 weeks. Sexual maturity is reached at an age of about 10 months.
Habitat: Semi-open or open country with scattered trees or small woods, cultivated areas with groups of trees, rocky landscapes, parks, avenues of trees along roads, gardens with mature trees, Mediterranean scrub and garrigue. In warm climates, they are also found in mountainous regions. This owl does not occur in dense forest. Winters mainly in savannas with trees.
Distribution: Southern Europe, locally in central, eastern and western Europe, and Africa north of the Sahara from Morocco to Tunisia, Asia Minor and eastwards to central Asia. Has been recorded breeding in southern Germany.
The Common Scops Owl is generally a migratory bird. European owls normally winter in the Savannas of east and west Africa, north of the rainforest. In Autumn, the owls leave their breeding areas between August and November, returning between March and late April, depending on the breeding area they are returning too.
The owl pages
Wikipedia, Eurasian scops owl