: any of various New World owls (genus Otus); especially: either of two small owls (O. asio of eastern North America and O. kennicottii of western North America) with a pair of tufts of lengthened feathers on the head resembling ears
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.