Genus SCOPS

The Scops Owls are of small size and furnished with aigrettes usually of considerable length. The head is rather large, the nostrils round and pierced in the anterior margin of the cere, which is slightly prominent. The wings are long, but vary much in shape, being far more rounded in some species than in others; the tail is moderate in length and rounded at the ends. The tarsus is feathered more or less completely. The plumage of the young differs from that of adults.

The members of this genus generally have the plumage minutely vermiculated or stippled with delicate markings, and the distinction of the species is rather difficult, several of the forms showing considerable variation. The number of species has, however, certainly been overrated; only two were admitted by Jerdon, whilst in Hume's Catalogue no less than 18 names are enumerated, but of these three are regarded as not worthy of distinction, and one as of doubtful validity. Anyone, however, who reads Hume's notes will recognize how very doubtful many of the nominal species are, and I think the 14 remaining species may with advantage be reduced by one-half.

All species of Scops are thoroughly nocturnal, and generally make their presence known in the dusk of the evening or after nightfall by a peculiar monotonous, monosyllabic or dissyllabic call, repeated at regular and rather long intervals, generally from inside a bush or tree with thick foliage.

These Owls are insectivorous as a rule, though they occasionally capture and eat small birds or mammals. They are found in most tropical and temperate regions, but are wanting in Australia.

Key to the Species.

a. 3rd quill longest, 1st longer than 8th.
a1. Feathers on tarsus stop short at base of toes : spots on scapulars white ………………………S. giu, p. 291.
b1. Feathers extend on to base of toes; spots on scapulars buff ………………………S. brucii, p. 294.
b. 4th or 5th quill longest; 1st much shorter than 8th.
c1. No distinct collar on hind-neck; pale spots on upper surface; no black shaft-stripes.
a2. Size moderate: wing about 5.5, tail about 3.
a3. Tarsus feathered to base of toes ………………………S. spilocephalus, p. 295.
b3. Lower third of tarsus hare ………………………S. balli, p. 296.
b2. Size large: wing over 7, tail 4.8 ………………………S. sagittatus, p. 296.
d1. A distinct pale collar on hind-neck ; black shaft-stripes usually distinct.
c2. Toes naked ………………………S. bakkamoena, 297.
d2. Toes feathered above ………………………S. semitorques, p. 300.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Reference: 
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.3 1895.
Title in Book: 
Genus SCOPS
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1895
Page No: 
291
M_ID: 
6324
M_SN: 
Otus
Volume: 
Vol. 3
Term name: 
id: 
1647

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