Get To Know The Birds of Turkey - 15 - Scops Owl
It’s been quite a long time since my last update on Birds of Turkey. Now, it’s time to continue with the series.
This article’s subject is:
EURASIAN SCOPS OWL - OTUS SCOPS
With sizes between 19-21 cm and wingspan around 47-54 cm, they are one of the smallest owl species. clearly smaller than Little Owl. Scops owls are typical owls mostly belonging to the genus Otus. Approximately 45 living species are known, but new ones are frequently recognised and unknown ones are still being discovered every few years or so.
Otus is the largest genus of owls in terms of number of species. Scops owls in the modern sense are restricted to the Old World.
As usual for owls, female scops owls are usually larger than the males of their species, with owls of both sexes being compact in size and shape. All of the birds in this genus are small and agile. Scops owls are coloured in various brownish hues, sometimes with a lighter underside and/or face, which helps to camouflage them against the bark of trees. Some are polymorphic, occurring in a greyish- and a reddish-brown morph.
Scops owls hunt from perches in semi-open landscapes. They prefer areas which contain old trees with hollows; these are home to their prey which includes insects, reptiles, small mammals such as bats and mice and other small birds. The owls will also eat earthworms, amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. Scops owls have a good sense of hearing which helps them locate their prey in any habitat. They also possess well-developed raptorial claws and a curved bill, both of which are used for tearing their prey into pieces small enough to swallow easily.
Scops owls are primarily solitary birds. Most species lay and incubate their eggs in a cavity nest that was originally made by another animal. During the incubation period, the male will feed the female. These birds are monogamous, with biparental care, and only fledge one young per year.
As opposed to screech owls, scops owls have only a single type of call. This consists of a series of whistles or high-pitched hoots, given with a frequency of 4 calls per second or less, or of a single, drawn-out whistle. Calls differ widely between species in type and pitch, and in the field are often the first indication of these birds' presence, as well as the most reliable means to distinguish between species.
Hope you’ll find this article useful. See you next time.
H. Caglar Gungor
Collins Bird Guide - Second Edition
Photo credits: H. Caglar Gungor.