Scops-owls in the modern sense are restricted to the Old World, except for a single North American species – the Flammulated Owl – that is only provisionally placed here and is likely to be moved out of Otus eventually. As usual for owls, female scops-owls are usually larger than the males of their species, with owls of both genders being compact in size and shape. All of the birds in this genus are small and agile. Scops-owls are colored in various brownish hues, sometimes with a lighter underside and/or face, which helps to camouflage them against the bark of trees. Some are polymorphic, occurring in a greyish- and a reddish-brown morph.