A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Scops Owls

Walking back up the Kalistrata last night at about 10pm I heard two scops owls "Pinging"  like a sonar.

These birds are entirely nocturnal unlike the little owl which is diurnal. The photograph by Peter Vidal shown here  is the only time I have ever seen this bird.

The Common Scops Owl is  most active from after sunset to midnight. Roosts by day in trees, normally close to the trunk, or in dense foliage, cavities in mature trees or rocks, holes in walls and similar places. Evening activity usually begins with a quick call, either at the roosting place, or from a nearby perch. Occasionally, some notes may be heard from the roost during the daytime. For migrating populations such as we have here on Symi, the breeding season starts on return from its winter quarters in the Sahel. For resident populations, such as southern Spain, the season starts in February. Males begin by calling on calm nights. The female answers and the birds start duetting. Mating is frequent after such duets. The male then flies to a potential nest cavity, enters and sings from the opening. Once the female has inspected and accepted the cavity, the pair will remain close by every evening. Nest sites include natural cavities in trees, rocks or walls, woodpecker holes in tree trunks or thick branches, or holes in steep banks of ditches or sandpits, even under roofs. Nestboxes are also accepted.
There is usually only one brood per year. Egg laying begins from late April or May to the first half of June, sometimes July. Normally 3-4 (sometimes 2-6) white eggs are laid directly on the bottom of the cavity at two day intervals. The eggs are rather spherical, averaging 31 x 27mm. Incubation begins with the second egg and is done by the female alone while the male provides the food. The eggs hatch after 20-31 days, depending on climate. The female broods and feeds the young for about 18 days, then leaves the nest to help the male bring in food. The chicks hatch blind, with their eyes beginning to open at 6-8 days and fully opened at 11-13 days. Regurgitation of pellets begins at about 6-9 days. At 3-4 weeks, the young leave the nest, landing on the ground and climbing up into trees or bushes by using their bill and claws, and flutter with their wings. At about 33 days, they are fully capable of flight. They are cared for and fed by both parents for a further 4-5 weeks before becoming independent. Sexual maturity is reached at an age of about 10 months.


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