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Any of numerous owls of the genus Otus (family Strigidae). Both New World species and Old World species (called scops owls) have a facial disk and ear tufts. In spite of their name, they do not in fact screech. Their colouring resembles tree bark, and they are 8–12 in. (20–30 cm) long. They eat mostly small mammals, birds, and insects. Notable species are the common screech owl (O. asio) of North America, the flammulated owl (O. flammeolus) of western North America, and the common scops owl (O. scops) of southern Europe, Asia, and Africa.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on screech owl, visit Britannica.com.