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Megascops napensis

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Strigiformes
Familia: Strigidae
Subfamilia: Striginae
Genus: Megascops
Species: Megascops napensis
Subspecies: M. n. bolivianus - M. n. helleri - M. n. napensis - M. n. rufus


Megascops napensis (Chapman, 1928)


American Museum Novitates no.332 p.3

Vernacular names
English: Rio Napo Screech-Owl

The Foothill Screech-owl (Megascops roraimae) is a species of owl in the Strigidae family. It is found in forests and dense second growth at altitudes of 200–1,800 metres (660–5,900 ft) in northern and western South America.[1][2] Its taxonomy is extremely complex and a matter of dispute (see taxonomy).


All screech-owls were formerly included in the genus Otus, but today they are placed in Megascops.

This species is a member of the M. guatemalae complex, which also includes the Chocó Screech-owl (M. centralis).[3] All are sometimes considered conspecific under the name Vermiculated Screech-owl (M. guatemalae).[3]

When split from the Guatemalan Screech-owl, several alternative treatments exist for the populations in South America and southern Central America (Panama and Costa Rica):

* 1) Include all in a single species, the Vermiculated Screech-owl (M. vermiculatus).[4]
* 2) Include populations in northern Venezuela, northern Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica in the Vermiculated Screech-owl (M. vermiculatus), populations in the Tepuis in the Roraima Screech-owl (M. roraimae), populations in lower east Andean foothills in the Rio Napo Screech-owl (M. napensis), and populations in the Chocó in the Chocó Screech-owl (M. centralis).[5]
* 3) Include all in the Foothill Screech-owl (M. roraimae), except the populations in the Chocó, which is the Chocó Screech-owl (M. centralis). Costa Rica has both Foothill Screech-owl and Guatemalan Screech-owl.[1][2]

As there are significant vocal differences between the various populations, and voices are of great importance in species-level taxonomy in owls, it is difficult to justify keeping them all together[5] as done in the first treatment above. There appear to be few, if any, vocal differences between populations in northern Venezuela, the Tepuis and the lower east Andean foothills, and the split between the long-trilled "Guatemala-song" and short-trilled "Chocó-song" appears to be in Costa Rica (rather than Panama, where all appear to sing the "Chocó-song").[1][2][3] This conflicts with the second treatment in the above, but matches the third treatment. Under this treatment the Foothill Screech-owl (M. roraimae) includes napensis as a subspecies, and is found locally along the lower east Andean slope from Venezuela, through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, to Bolivia, along the eastern (=Venezuelan) slope of the Perijá Mountains, the Venezuelan Coastal Range, and the Tepuis in southern Venezuela, far northern Brazil and Guyana.[1][2] It is replaced by the closely related Montane Forest Screech-owl (M. hoyi) in southern Bolivia and north-western Argentina,[4] and a population in the Santa Marta Mountains in Colombia may represent a new, scientifically undescribed species.[6][7]


The Foothill Screech-owl has a total length between 20 and 22 centimetres (7.9 and 8.7 in),[1][2] with a wing length of between 15 and 17.5 centimetres (5.9 and 6.9 in).[8] It typically has a tail around 8 centimetres (3.1 in) in length, while its beak is a bit more than 2 centimetres (0.79 in).[8] Its tarsus is 24–31.5 millimetres (0.94–1.24 in).[8] The plumage of the Foothill Screech-owl is dimorphic with a one morph that is overall grayish-brown and another that is overall rufous.[1]


1. ^ a b c d e f Hilty, S. L. (2003). Birds of Venezuela. 2nd edition. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02131-7
2. ^ a b c d e Ridgely, R. S., & Greenfield, P. J. (2001). The Birds of Ecuador. Cornell University Press. ISBN 071366116X (vol. 1), ISBN 0713661178 (vol. 2).
3. ^ a b c Robbins, M. B. (2001) Continue to recognize a broad Otus guatemalae (namely to include O. vermiculatus, O. napensis, O roraimae). South American Classification Committee. Accessed 25 January 2011.
4. ^ a b Holt, Berkley, Deppe, Enríquez Rocha, Petersen, Rangel Salazar, Segras, & Wood (1999). Guatemalan Screech-owl (Otus guatemalae), Vermiculated Screech-owl (Otus vermiculatus) and Hoy's Screech-owl (Otus hoyi). Pp. 180-181 in: del Hoy, Elliott, & Sargatal. Eds. (1999) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to Hummingbirds. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-25-3
5. ^ a b König, C., Weick, F., & Becking, J. H. (1999). Owls. Pica Press. ISBN 9780300079203
6. ^ American Bird Conservancy (2010). Conservation of the Threatened Birds of Santa Marta, Colombia. Accessed 25 January 2011.
7. ^ Boesman, P. (1994). Megascops guatemalae ssp. nov.. Xeno-canto. Accessed 25 January 2011.
8. ^ a b c Friedhelm Weick (2006). Owls (Strigiformes): Annotated and Illustrated Checklist. Springer. ISBN 3540352341.

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