The Scops Owl is, with the European Owl, the smallest of the nocturnal raptors in Europe. Classified among the species in grave danger, it is present in Ardèche in the agricultural zones and the craggy reliefs.
The Scops Owl measures 19 to 20 cm, for a weight of 60 to 135gr only. Its silhouette is picked up with a large head surmounted by two very short, little visible egrets, yellow eyes and greyish facial discs. Its plumage looks like tree bark, which allows it to hide in case of danger.
It is a migratory raptor; present in our latitudes from mid-March to October, it spends its winters in the extreme regions of Europe, even sub-Saharan. Although its presence is difficult to quantify, the species is identified mainly in the southern departments of Ardèche and Drôme (low Ardèche, Vivarais, Baronnies, Val de Drôme and Diois), in areas influenced by the Mediterranean climate. The Dent de Rez massif is home to more than 100 breeding species, including the Scops Owl, and is an important landmark on the north-south route of West European migratory birds wintering in North Africa.
The Scops Owl appreciates the semi-open spaces, such as groves and orchards, or the edges of agricultural areas where it can find cavities in hollow trees such as mulberry and almond trees, or in the dry-stone walls, many in Ardèche. It mainly feeds with insects. Ranked among the species in serious danger in the red list of terrestrial vertebrate Rhône-Alpes (CORA), its population has fallen sharply since the beginning of the XXI century, placing it among the 30 species that have declined the most in the region. The impact of humans on their habitat but also the use of pesticides in agricultural areas that have led to a rarefaction of their favorite prey explain the significant decline in populations.
Maintaining fauna populations means conserving favorable environments, with trees offering cavities and respectful agricultural practices. Locally, the installation of nesting-boxes helps to maintain and develop its presence.
More information about Scops Owl: http://www.oiseaux.net/oiseaux/petit-duc.scops.html
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