This, Otus senegalensis, is the common scops owl species of sub-Saharan Africa. It is a small owl, only about 18 cm/7" in length. Sleeping by daytime perched next to bark it is almost invisible. It can be located at night by its chirruping call. The ears of this and other eared owls are not real ears for hearing, but tufts of feathers with two purposes. Firstly it helps with disguise; when an owl stretches itself out and points the ear tufts upwards they break up its outline and helps it merge with the bark. But also, when an owl is scared by a person or predator, it will spread the ear tufts and open its eyes wide - this makes its face look like that of a wild cat, and might help scare off the threat! Watercolour.