A nocturnal species, during the day the common scops-owl conceals itself in the trees, camouflaged against the bark. If approached by a predator, this species further enhances its disguise, by stretching its body and even swaying back and forth to imitate a branch (3) (4). Insects, such as crickets, beetles and moths form the main part of this species’ diet, but it will also takes earthworms and spiders, along with occasional small birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Most hunting is carried out by swooping down upon prey from a perch, although this owl will also pull earthworms from the ground with its bill, and catch moths on the wing (4).
The common scops-owl breeds between March and August in southern Europe. Breeding pairs are usually monogamous, although polygyny does occasionally occur. The nests, which may be reused for several years, are located within tree cavities, holes in buildings, or sometimes in the abandoned nests of other bird species. Two to six eggs are laid and incubated for 24 to 25 days by the female. The young leave the nest at 21 to 29 days old, and are capable of flying at around 30 to 33 days, although parental care continues for a further five weeks. Migratory populations leave the breeding grounds from August onwards, sometimes travelling in family groups, and return in late March (4).