Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Scops-owl (Otus scops)


French: Petit-duc scops German: Zwergohreule Spanish: Autillo europeo
Other common names: Common Scops-owl, European Scops-owl

Strix Scops


, 1758,



Formerly considered by many to include O. enganensis, O. umbra, O. senegalensis, O. hartlaubi, O. brucei, O. longicornis, O. mirus, O. mindorensis, O. sunia, O. elegans and O. mantananensis; all of these now shown to be separated specifically by voice and, in some cases, by DNA. Nominate race intergrades with pulchellus in region of R Volga. Proposed race vincii (from Italy) is synonymized with nominate. Race cyprius may be considered specifically distinct, based on differences in song (double-note) and plumage colour (darker)#R. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. s. scops (Linnaeus, 1758) – France, Italy and C Mediterranean islands E to R Volga, S to N Greece, N Turkey and Transcaucasia.
  • O. s. pulchellus (Pallas, 1771) – R Volga E to L Baikal, S to Altai and Tien Shan.
  • O. s. mallorcae von Jordans, 1923 – Iberia, Balearic Is, NW Africa (NC Morocco to Tunisia).
  • O. s. cycladum (Tschusi, 1904) – S Greece (including Cyclades) and S Asia Minor S to C Israel and Jordan.
  • O. s. cyprius (Madarász, 1901) – Cyprus.
  • O. s. turanicus (Loudon, 1905) – Iraq, W & N Iran and SW Turkmenistan (and perhaps this race SE Turkey) E to NW Pakistan.
  • In winter, in S of Sahara from S Mauritania E to Eritrea, S to S Cameroon, Kenya and Somalia; also, locally around Mediterranean.

    Descriptive notes

    16–20 cm; wingspan 53–64 cm; 60–135 g. Occurs in grey-brown and rufous-brown morphs, latter less frequent. Rufous-brown morph, however, increased in Italy... read more


    Male territorial call a low, short whistle, “tyeu”, repeated at intervals of 2–3... read more


    Breeds in rather open and semi-open broadleaved woodland, including parks, orchards and plantations... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly insects and other invertebrates; also earthworms, spiders, and some small birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Insects mostly... read more


    Season Mar–Aug in S Europe; lays May–Jun in N Africa. Monogamous, occasionally polygynous. Mostly solitary, but occasionally 2... read more


    Mostly migratory; S populations either partially so or resident. Mainly resident in Cyprus; ... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. In mid-1990s, European population estimated at 77,000–96,000 pairs, plus possibly 50,000 pairs in European Russia and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Eurasian Scops-owl (Otus scops). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 4 April 2020).