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Eurasian Scops Owl - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by JJM
Lesvos, May 2003

Alternative names: Commmon Scops-Owl; European Scops-Owl

Otus scops

Includes: Cyprus Scops Owl


Photo © by anzek
Bijela, Montenegro

16–20 cm (6¼-7¾ in)
Small, eared owl with yellow eyes.
Plumage is a grey-buff intricately marked with black, which provides excellent camouflage against tree bark when roosting.

Young birds are more strongly vermiculated than adults.


Southern Europe, parts of North Africa, Asia Minor east to Central Asia. Many populations migratory, moving to Africa south of Sahara in winter.


Originally formed superspecies with Oriental Scops Owl and African Scops Owl but is vocally and genetically distinct.


Cyprus Scops Owl
Photo © by ApusApus
Paphos District, Cyprus, 22 February 2020

Six subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • O. s. scops:
  • O. s. pulchellus:
  • Volga River to Lake Baikal and south to Altai and Tien Shan Mountains
  • O. s. mallorcae:
  • O. s. cycladum:
  • O. s. cyprius:
  • Cyprus - split by IOC as Cyprus Scops Owl
  • O. s. turanicus:

Subspecies cycladum may be included in nominate form.


Open or semi-open woodland, parks, plantations etc. Winters on savannah. Usually not conifers except in parts of Russian range.



Nests in tree-holes and in cavities in rocks and walls.


Mainly insects and other invertebrates but also small lizards, frogs and small mammals.


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  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2016. IOC World Bird Names (version 6.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.

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