Scops owl (Otus scops)

Order: Family Genus Specie:
Strigiforms Strigidae Otus Otus scops



It is the smallest of the nocturnal raptors: it measures around 20 cm, with a wingspread of a bit less than 50 cm and it weighs around 100 gr. They have tufts and extremely cryptic plumage that makes them virtually invisible in a trunk if they keep their eyes closed. There are two plumage coloration with intermediate colorations between gray and reddish. The bill is black. The iris is pale yellow in chicks and lemon yellow in adults.


Typical habitats of Scops Owl are the river groves, gardens and parks, avoiding dense forest areas. They need open areas to hunt.

Estatus y distribution

In the Iberian Peninsula breeds Otus scops mallorcae. It is also found in the islands. It migrates to spend winter in South African areas, probably between the Sahara Desert and the equatorial forest. Possibly, part of the European population remains in the south of the peninsula and northern Africa during the winter.


Species with exclusively nocturnal habits, it relies on the cryptic plumage and its short and wide ears to go unnoticed during the day while resting in branches.

Hunt from perches, capturing prey on the ground or forcing flying preys to land.


Preferably based on insects, although occasionally it catches little birds, amphibians and reptiles.


They nest in holes of trees, often in Woodpecker’s (Picus viridis) nests.

Lay size varies between 3 and 6 eggs, placed every 2 days. They are incubated by the female for 24 or 25 days, and chicks leave the nest at 21 days of life, but do not fly properly until they are 33 days.

Conservation status

(Red Book of Birds of Spain)

“Of Special Interest” (National Catalog of Threatened Species of Spain)
(Source: SEO-Birdlife)