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Eurasian Scops-owl Otus scops

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Otus scops (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into O. senegalensis following Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), O. sunia following AOU (1998), O. alius following Rassmussen (1998) and O. scops (with species limits accordingly revised).

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 232,000-393,000 pairs, which equates to 463,000-785,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 57% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 812,000-1,380,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. It is placed in the band 800,000-1,400,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction. In Europe the population size trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015).

Declines in this species are most likely down to habitat changes and a reduction in insect populations (Holt et al. 1999), probably from the use of pesticides (König 2008). The spread of large-scale farming, modernisation of agricultural methods and the reduction in the number of hollow trees may have driven its extirpation from areas in France and Spain (Holt et al. 1999, König 2008). Urban developments may also lead to a loss of habitat (Martínez et al. 2007). In Switzerland, suitable habitat has been fragmented by spread of viniculture and agricultural intensification (Holt et al. 1999) and land abandonment leading to loss of grassland habitats favoured by the species is also a threat (Sergio et al. 2009). In Israel pesticide use reduced the population however increases have occurred since the 1970s (Holt et al. 1999). Locally, increases in predator populations, such as Tawny owls (Strix alucomay lead to decreases in this species (König 2008). Hunting, along migration routes in Italy and Malta, are also thought to impact the species (Tucker and Heath 1994).

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P. and Wood, K.L. 1999. Eurasian Scops-owl (Otus scops). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (ed.), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

König, C. and Weick, F. 2008. Owls of the World. Christopher Helm, London.

Martínez, J.A., Zuberogoitia, I., Martínez, J.E., Zabala, J. and Calvo, J.F. 2007. Patterns of territory settlement by Eurasian scops-owls (Otus scops) in altered semi-arid landscapes. Journal of Arid Environments 69: 400-409.

Sergio, F., Marchesi, L. and Pedrini, P. 2009. Conservation of Scops Owl Otus scops in the Alps: relationships with grassland management, predation risk and wider biodiversity. Ibis 151(1): 40-50.

Tucker, G.M. and Heath, M.F. 1994. Birds in Europe: their conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Otus scops. Downloaded from on 27/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Common scops-owl (Otus scops) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Strigidae (Typical Owls)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size 800000-1400000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 8,550,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment