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Order Owls/Strigiformes, Family Owls/Strigidae

Common Scops-owl/Otus scops - First year

L 19-21 cm, WS 47-54 cm. Breeds in broadleaved and mixed open woodland, copses in farmland, churchyards, town parks, larger gardens; also found in wooded lower mountains. Migratory, wintering in southernmost Europe and Africa S of Sahara. In Britain only a few records per decade. Nocturnal. Food mainly insects. Nests in hole.
IDENTIFICATION: Small, somewhat smaller than Little Owl. Sits upright, showing little of ear-tufts when relaxed (merely as sharp corners of crown), more when alert (can adopt erect camouflage posture like Long-eared Owl). In flight, shows proportionately long and narrow wings, path hardly bounding (cf. Little). Except at close range, appears rather uniform brown (rufous or more greyish; variable) with pale (grey-white) shoulder line, slightly paler face and underbody; seen well, shows intricate pattern of black streaks and vermiculations, diffuse whitish spots and rufous patches. Eyes yellow. For separation from at times extremely similar Pale Scops Owl, see that species.
VOICE: Song most commonly heard call, a constantly repeated short, deep, whistling ‘tyuh’ every 2-3 (4) sec., easy to mimic, audible to c. 1 km; female has slightly higher-pitched version, often duetting with male. Distinguished from midwife toad by slightly longer note and fuller, more musical clanging quality (not completely straight and mechanically whistling like the toad).

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