Thermal oxidation effects on the structural, compositional, and optical properties of erbium films deposited on silicon via electron beam evaporation were analyzed by x-ray diffraction, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Auger electron spectroscopy, and spectroscopic ellipsometry. A gradual rise in oxidation temperature from 700 to 900 °C resulted in a transition from ErO- to Er2O3-rich phase. Additional increase in oxidation temperature above 1000°C led to the formation of erbium silicate due to further oxygen incorporation, as well as silicon out-diffusion from the substrate. A silicon oxide interfacial layer was also detected, with its thickness increasing with higher oxidation temperature. Additionally, film refractive index decreased, while its Tauc bandgap value increased from ∼5.2 eV to ∼6.4 eV, as the oxidation temperature was raised from 700 °C to above 900 °C. These transformations were accompanied by the appearance of an intense and broad absorption band below the optical gap. Thermal oxidation effects are discussed in the context of film structural characteristics and defect states.