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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Subsectio: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Euornithes
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Ornithurae
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Ordo: Strigiformes

Familia: Strigidae
Subfamilia: Striginae
Genus: Megascops
Species: Megascops roraimae
Subspecies: M. r. pallidus – M. r. napensis – M. r. roraimae

Dubious taxa or synonyms: M. r. bolivianus – M. r. helleri – M. r. rufus


Megascops roraimae (Salvin, 1897)

Scops roraimae (protonym)
Otus roraimae (Salvin, 1897)
Otus guatemalae roraimae (Salvin, 1897)
Otus vermiculatus roraimae (Salvin, 1897)
Megascops vermiculatus roraimae (Salvin, 1897)
Megascops guatemalae roraimae (Salvin, 1897)

Primary references

Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 6 .p. 38 BHL

Krabbe, N. 2017. A new species of Megascops (Strigidae) from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, with notes on voices of New World screech-owls. Ornitología Colombiana 16: eA08:1–27. Full article (PDF)Reference page.

Vernacular names
English: Roraima screech-owl; Foothill screech-owl
español: Autillo de Roraima
português: Corujinha-de-roraima

The foothill screech owl (Megascops roraimae) is a species of owl in the family Strigidae. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.[1]

Taxonomy and systematics

The foothill screech owl's taxonomy has undergone numerous changes. It has variously been treated as embedded in or a subspecies of the original Otus guatemalae and then as a subspecies of O. vermiculatus when that was split from O. guatemalae. In the early 2000s all of the New World members of Otus were assigned to Megascops.[2] [3] As of 2019, the International Ornithological Committee (IOC), the North and South American Classification Committees of the American Ornithological Society (AOS), and the Clements taxonomy treat it as a separate species, Megascops roraimae.[1][4][3][5] However, BirdLife International's Handbook of the Birds of the World treats it as being embedded within M. vermiculatus vermiculatus, the nominate subspecies of vermiculated screech owl.[6][7]

The IOC recognizes three subspecies, the nominate Megascops roraimae roraimae, M. r. pallidus, and M. r. napensis. The Clements taxonomy recogizes two more, M. r. helleri and M. r. bolivianus, that the IOC includes within napensis.[1][5]

The foothill screech owl is 20 to 23 cm (7.9 to 9.1 in) long and weighs 91 to 128 g (3.2 to 4.5 oz). The subspecies are reddish brown to brown with paler bellies, and most have both a pale and a dark morph. The intensity of the reddish cast varies among the subspecies as do the amount and pattern of streaks and spots on the upperparts and vermiculation on the underparts.[2]
Distribution and habitat

The subspecies of the foothill screech owl are found thus:[5]

M. r. roraimae, Guianan Shield tepuis of southern Venezuela, southern Guyana, Suriname, and adjacent northern Brazil
M. r. pallidus, coastal mountains of northern Venezuela
M. r. napensis, Andean foothills of Venezuela, eastern Colombia, and eastern Ecuador
M. r. helleri, eastern Peru
M. r. bolivianus, northern Bolivia

The foothill screech owl inhabits dense humid to wet rainforest, though exact details have not been documented. In elevation it mostly ranges between 250 and 1,500 m (820 and 4,920 ft) and rarely up to 1,800 m (5,900 ft).[2]

The foothill screech owl's hunting practices have not been documented. Its diet is mostly insects and other arthropods and perhaps includes small vertebrates.[2]

The foothill screech owl's breeding phenology has not been documented. It is assumed to nest in tree cavities, either natural or made by another bird, like others of its genus.[2]

Dickcissel male perched on a metal pole singing, with neck stretched and beak open.

Songs and calls
Listen to foothill screech owl on xeno-canto

The foothill screech owl's song is a "wavering trill" similar to that of the Middle American screech owl (M. guatemalae). It "starts quietly, gradually incrasing in volume and pitch, then dropping slightly in pitch but with steady volume [and] decreases in volume near [the] end."[2]

The IUCN has not assessed the status of the foothill screech owl as a separate species, but includes it with the Middle American screech owl (M. guatemalae). It appears to favor intact forest, so "forest destruction [is] undoubtedly a real threat".[2]


Gill, F.; Donsker, D.; Rasmussen, P. (July 2021). "IOC World Bird List (v 11.2)". Retrieved July 14, 2021.
Holt, D. W., R. Berkley, C. Deppe, P. L. Enríquez, J. L. Petersen, J. L. Rangel Salazar, K. P. Segars, K. L. Wood, G. M. Kirwan, J. S. Marks, and H. F. Greeney (2020). Foothill Screech-Owl (Megascops roraimae), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.foosco1.01 retrieved August 8, 2021
Remsen, J. V., Jr., J. I. Areta, E. Bonaccorso, S. Claramunt, A. Jaramillo, D. F. Lane, J. F. Pacheco, M. B. Robbins, F. G. Stiles, and K. J. Zimmer. Version 23 May 2021. A classification of the bird species of South America. American Ornithological Society. https://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.htm retrieved May 24, 2021
"Check-list of North and Middle American Birds". American Ornithological Society. July 14, 2021. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/ Retrieved August 15, 2019
HBW and BirdLife International (2020) Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International digital checklist of the birds of the world Version 5. Available at: http://datazone.birdlife.org/userfiles/file/Species/Taxonomy/HBW-BirdLife_Checklist_v5_Dec20.zip [.xls zipped 1 MB] retrieved May 27, 2021

HBW and BirdLife International (2020) Taxonomic notes to accompany the Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International digital checklist of the birds of the world Version 5. Available at: http://datazone.birdlife.org/userfiles/file/Species/Taxonomy/HBW-BirdLife_Checklist_v5_Dec20.zip [.xls zipped 1 MB]. retrieved May 27, 2021

Further reading
König, C.; Weick, F.; Becking, J.H. (1999). Owls. Pica Press. ISBN 978-0-300-07920-3.
Weick, F. (2006). Owls (Strigiformes): Annotated and Illustrated Checklist. Springer. ISBN 3-540-35234-1.
Hilty, S.L. (2003). Birds of Venezuela (2 ed.). Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02131-7.
Ridgeley, R.S.; Greenfield, P.J. (2001). The Birds of Ecuador. 1. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-7136-6116-X.
Ridgeley, R.S.; Greenfield, P.J. (2001). The Birds of Ecuador. 2. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-7136-6117-8.
Restall, R.L.; Rodner, C.; Lentino, M. (2006). Birds of Northern South America. 1. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-7243-9.
Restall, R.L.; Rodner, C.; Lentino, M. (2006). Birds of Northern South America. 2. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-7242-0.

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