A resident bird of Cyprus and the Akamas peninsula. It’s met mainly in open areas, often with scattered trees, sparse forests, inside villages and even inside towns. It’s a nocturnal species, becoming active when it’s dark, when it starts to hunting.
It feeds primarily on rodents (mice, rats) and it’s considered as one of the most effective natural ways of controlling their population. It hunts either from a perching point, or by flying, often with some hovering, in both cases swooping on the prey. It has a relatively slow and light flight style with loose wing beats and it’s completely silent.
It nests in holes on walls, cliffs, buildings (including roofs) and tree hollows, while it easily accepts nest boxes. It’s one of the bigger owl species of Cyprus, with an upright, slender body, pale face in a heart shape with black eyes, reminding a bit human’s face, where the Cypriot name “Athropopoulli” comes from.
It has a characteristic coloration, with almost all white front parts (underparts), pale gold-beige on the back (upperparts), giving the impression of a biggish white bird from a distance. It’s call is a characteristic, long, quivering scream. Because of its call and its habit to inhabit old, ruined buildings, it has been associated to myths and superstitions in the past, totally wrongly.