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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Ordo: Strigiformes

Familia: Strigidae
Subfamilia: Surniinae
Genus: Athene
Species: A. blewittiA. bramaA. cunicularia – A. granti – A. jacquinoti – A. malaitae – A. noctua – A. roseoaxillaris – A. superciliaris


Athene F. Boie, 1822

Typus: Strix noctua Scopoli, 1769 = Athene noctua


Noctua Savigny, 1809
Carine Kaup, 1829
Speotyto Gloger, 1842
Heteroglaux Hume, 1873

Primary references

Isis, oder Encyclopädische Zeitung 10,11 col. 549

Additional references

Koparde, P., Mehta, P., Reddy, S., Ramakrishnan, U., Mukherjee, S. & Robin, V.V. 2018. The critically endangered forest owlet Heteroglaux blewitti is nested within the currently recognized Athene clade: A century-old debate addressed. Plos One 13(2): e0192359 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192359 Open access Reference page.
Salter, J.F., Oliveros, C.H., Hosner, P.A., Manthey, J.D., Robbins, M.B., Moyle, R.G., Brumfield, R.T. & Faircloth, B.C. 2019. Extensive paraphyly in the typical owl family (Strigidae). The Auk. 137 (ukz070). DOI: 10.1093/auk/ukz070 Open access Reference page.

Vernacular names
azərbaycanca: Xarabaçıl
беларуская: Сычы
català: Mussol
нохчийн: Сычи
Deutsch: Steinkäuze
English: Little owls
Esperanto: Noktuoj
español: Mochuelo
فارسی: جغد سنگی
suomi: Minervanpöllöt
français: Chevêche
עברית: כּוֹס
lietuvių: Pelėdikės
кырык мары: Изитыманавлӓ
Nederlands: Steenuil
occitan: Chòt
русский: Сычи
татарча/tatarça: Чырайсыз ябалаклар
українська: Сич
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Boyoʻgʻlilar

Athene is a genus of owls, containing nine living species, depending on classification. These birds are small, with brown and white speckles, yellow eyes, and white eyebrows. This genus is found on all continents except for Australia, Antarctica, and Subsaharan Africa. An evolutionary radiation of 4 species (formerly thought to be in the genus Ninox) is also present in the Solomon Islands.
Taxonomy and list of species

The genus Athene was introduced by the German zoologist Friedrich Boie in 1822.[1] The type species was designated as the little owl (Athene noctua) by the English zoologist George Robert Gray in 1841.[2][3] The genus name is from the little owl which was closely associated with the Greek goddess Athena, and often depicted with her. Her original role as a goddess of the night might explain the link to an owl.[4]

The genus contains the following nine species.[5]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Athene noctua (portrait).jpg Athene noctua Little owl Europe, Asia east to Korea and North Africa
Athene brama 1.jpg Athene brama Spotted owlet tropical Asia from mainland India to Southeast Asia
Athene cunicularia -Vale do Ribeira, Juquia, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8.jpg Athene cunicularia Burrowing owl North and South America
White-browed hawk-owl (Ninox superciliaris).jpg Athene superciliaris White-browed owl Madagascar
Forest Owlet.jpg Athene blewitti Forest owlet central India
Ninox jacquinoti Ninox boobook ocellata.jpg Athene jacquinoti West Solomons owl western Solomon Islands
Athene granti[6] Guadalcanal owl Guadalcanal Island, Solomon Islands
Athene malaitae[6] Malaita owl Malaita Island, Solomon Islands
Athene roseoaxillaris[6] Makira owl Bauro and Makira Islands, Solomon Islands

The forest owlet was formerly placed in the monotypic genus Heteroglaux, and the Solomon Islands radiation was formerly placed in the genus Ninox with the other owls referred to as "boobooks" until taxonomic studies found them to group in Athene.
Extinct species and subspecies

A number of mainly island representatives of this genus are only known from fossil or subfossil remains:

Athene megalopeza (fossil; Rexroad Late Pliocene of west-central U.S.) - sometimes placed in Speotyto
Athene veta (fossil; Early Pleistocene of Rebielice, Poland)
Athene angelis (fossil; Middle - Late Pleistocene of Castiglione, Corsica)
Athene trinacriae (Pleistocene)
Athene cf. cunicularia (fossil; Pleistocene of Barbuda, West Indies) - sometimes placed in Speotyto
Athene cf. cunicularia (fossil; Pleistocene of the Cayman Islands, West Indies) - sometimes placed in Speotyto
Athene cf. cunicularia (fossil; Pleistocene of Jamaica, West Indies) - sometimes placed in Speotyto
Athene cf. cunicularia (fossil; Pleistocene of Mona Island, West Indies) - sometimes placed in Speotyto
Athene cf. cunicularia (fossil; Pleistocene of Puerto Rico, West Indies) - sometimes placed in Speotyto
Cretan owl (Athene cretensis) (prehistoric; Crete, Mediterranean)

Cretan owl with Candiacervus ropalophorus

The Cretan owl was a flightless or near-flightless form that was more than 50 cm (almost 2 ft) tall. It went extinct soon after the island of Crete became inhabited by humans.

Late Miocene (about 11 mya) fossil remains from Rudabánya (NE Hungary) have been tentatively assigned to this genus.[7] Considering the known fossil range of Athene and the misassignments of many Miocene strigids from Europe, it may be a basal member of the present genus or not belong here at all. The supposed species "Athene" murivora was the name given to subfossil bones of male Rodrigues scops owls.

Antiguan burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia amaura) - extinct (c. 1905)
Guadeloupe burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia guadeloupensis) - extinct (c. 1890)


Boie, Friedrich (1822). "Ueber Classification, insonderheit der europäischen Vogel". Isis von Oken (in German). Cols 545–564 [549].
Gray, George Robert (1841). A List of the Genera of Birds : with their Synonyma and an Indication of the Typical Species of Each Genus (2nd ed.). London: R. and J.E. Taylor. p. 7.
Peters, James Lee, ed. (1940). Check-List of Birds of the World. Vol. 4. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 147.
Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 58, 274. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "Owls". IOC World Bird List Version 10.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
"Species Updates – IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2021-05-27.
Bernor, R.L.; Kordos, L. & Rook, L. (eds): "Recent Advances on Multidisciplinary Research at Rudabánya, Late Miocene (MN9), Hungary: A compendium. Archived 2007-06-28 at the Wayback Machine" Paleontographica Italiana 89: 3-36.

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