European scops owl
Scops Owl (Otus scops), Kalloni, Lesvos, Greece, 19.04.2015 (16773748434).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Otus
O. scops
Binomial name
Otus scops

Range of O. scops     Breeding     Resident     Passage     Non-breeding
Strix scops Linnaeus, 1758

The Eurasian scops owl (Otus scops), also known as the European scops owl or just scops owl, is a small owl. This species is a part of the larger grouping of owls known as typical owls, Strigidae, which contains most species of owl. The other grouping is the barn owls, Tytonidae. The scientific name is from the Latin otus for an eared owl and Ancient Greek skopos, “watcher”.


Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

This bird breeds in southern Europe eastwards into western and central Asia. It is migratory, wintering in southernmost Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. It is rare any distance north of its breeding range, usually occurring as a spring overshoot. It is unlikely that this nocturnal owl would be found outside the breeding season when it is not calling.
It breeds in open woodland, parks and gardens. It lays 3-6 eggs in a tree hole.


Grey morph

This is a small owl, and at 19–21 cm (7.5–8.3 in) in length and a 47–54 cm (19–21 in) wingspan is not as large as the little owl. Body mass ranges from 64 to 135 g (2.3 to 4.8 oz).
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.


The call is a deep whistle given by both sexes. It is similar to the call of the midwife toad.


It takes small prey such as insects and other invertebrates. It is largely nocturnal.