Distribution, density, diet and productivity of the Scops Owl Otus scops in the Italian Alps

Scops-Owl (Otus scops) Science Article 1


The Scops Owl Otus scops is probably the least known European owl. We surveyed Scops Owls in the Trento region (6200 km2) of the central-eastern Italian Alps between 1995 and 2003 and we intensively monitored a subpopulation in a 50-km2 plot between 2000 and 2003. In the whole region, we found 81 territories concentrated in 21, low-elevation 100-km2 quadrats. Most territories were associated with villages surrounded by extensively managed grassland (79%), arid areas with rocky outcrops and xerophytic vegetation (12%) and/or large urban areas and parks (6%). In the 50-km2 plot, density varied between 52 and 64 territories/100 km2 annually. Territories were either solitary or clumped in loose colonies of 2-7 pairs. In contrast to previous studies, most nests used for laying were in holes and cracks of buildings (95%, n = 20). This may have been favoured by thermal and foraging advantages, but also involved some costs, such as predation by domestic cats and collision with cars.


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