Eurasian Scops-owl

Otus scops

الثبج الأوروبي

Status: Rare

The Eurasian Scops-owl belongs to the Strigidae family in the Strigiformes order. The Eurasian Scops-owl is the smallest owl in our region. Its body is narrow, delicate and has the appearance of a tree bark. The abdomen and under-parts are light gray, with dark stripes. The back and upperparts are usually dark gray, with light black stripes. The wings are relatively long and narrow and its yellow eyes are obvious on the gray background. The "ear" tufts are elongated and sticking out upwards. When threatened, the Scops-owl stretches, holds up the "ear" tufts and squints, so it merges perfectly with the trunk body where it stands. There are no color differences between male and female but usually female Scops-owls are larger than the males of their species. The body length of the Scops-owl is usually 18-21 cm while the weight is 55-115 grams. Because of its outstanding camouflage as a tree bark and its shy nature, observations of Scops-owl are very difficult. Usually the sole evidence of its presence in the area is its typical singing that consists of a short, clear single syllable - "Tio", repeated every few seconds, like the beeping of truck's reverse gear. The female's singing is a little higher than the male's and sometimes it sings a duet with the male. The Scops-owl spots the prey from a watch point, and catches it on the ground. It feeds primarily on insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets, moths, beetles and larvae but also feeds on small rodents, bats, shrews, reptiles, amphibians and small songbirds.Declines in this species are most likely down to habitat changes and a reduction in insect populations, probably from the use of pesticides. The Scops-owl nests in various types of woodlands: from forests, to Mediterranean woodland, parks, rural areas and even oasis palm trees. The breeding season lasts from mid-March to mid-August. Scops-owls are common in Western and Central Europe, and spread as far as central Asia. Also it nests in North Africa and the Middle East.

Conservation status: least concern.

Migratory behaviour: Breeder

Sites: Beitillu, Wadi Al-Quff nature reserves