Description: Small, eared owl with yellow eyes. Its plumage is a vermiculated grey-buff, intricately marked with black provides excellent camouflage against tree bark when roosting.
Size: 16-21cm, 60-135g
Range: Southern Europe, parts of North Africa, Asia Minor east to Central Asia. Many populations migratory, moving to Africa south of Sahara in winter.
Habitat: Open or semi-open woodland, parks, plantations etc. Winters on savannah.
Food: Mainly insects and other invertebrates but also small lizards, frogs and small mammals.
Breeding: 2-6 eggs laid from March-August, normally in tree cavity. Eggs are incubated for 25 days, young leave the nest by about 4 weeks and are independent by a week later.
Call: A low, short, piping whistle repeated at 2-3 second intervals.
Status: A low, short, piping whistle repeated at 2-3 second intervals.
Comments: This owl is very nocturnal, and rarely seen, but its wonderful piping call can readily be heard ringing out from Mediterranean olive groves in early summer.
Races: Originally formed superspecies with O. sunia and O. senegalensis but is vocally and genetically distinct. Race cycladum may be included in nominate form.