Five owl species are commonly seen on Cyprus: Barn owl, short-eared owl, long-eared owl, little owl and scops owl.
Scops owl is the smallest one. Its name originates form the ancient Greek word skopos meaning "to watch". It is a nocturnal owl and lives a very secretive life. It is almost impossible to see it when it is perched, yet it watches you! Although scops owl is hard to see, it is very easy to hear as its song booms through the night and can be heard from a long distance.
Scops owl was considered to be one of the five endemic subspecies of Cyprus, not a full species. But the individuals breeding on the island have a peculiar call and recent research has pointed out that this call is much more unique than previously recognised. As a result of these new findings, based on genetic differentiation and on data provided by the KUŞKOR ringing scheme, Cyprus Scops Owl is now considered a third species endemic to Cyprus by the International Ornithological Congress, but it is yet to be accepted by other taxonomists.
Reprising the taxonomy of Cyprus Scops Owl Otus (scops) cyprius, a neglected island endemic. Zootaxa. 2015 Nov 11; 4040(3): 301-16. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4040.3.3. Flint P, Whaley D, Kirwan GM, Charalambides M, Schweizer M, Wink M.
Unusual song of an individual Cyprus Scops Owl Otus cyprius (Aves: Strigidae) Pages 291-295 | Received 15 Jun 2017, Accepted 27 Aug 2017, Published online: 11 Sep 2017. Peter Flint