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Megascops kennicottii

Megascops kennicottii, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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 kennicottii
Subspecies M. k. aikeni - M. k. bendirei - M. k. brewsteri - M. k. cardonensis - M. k. cineraceus - M. k. clazus - M. k. gilmani - M. k. inyoensis - M. k. kennicottii - M. k. macfarlanei - M. k. mychophilus - M. k. quercinus - M. k. saturatus - M. k. sinaloensis - M. k. sortilegus - M. k. suttoni - M. k. vinaceus - M. k. xantusi - M. k. yumanensis


Megascops kennicottii (Elliot, 1867)


* Otus kennicottii


Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 19 p.99

Vernacular names
English: Western Screech Owl

The Western Screech-Owl, Megascops kennicottii, is a small owl native to North and Central America, closely related to the European Scops owl and the North American Eastern Screech Owl. The scientific name commemorates the American naturalist Robert Kennicott.


Length 22 cm (8.5 in), wing span 51 cm (20 in), weight 150 g (5 oz). Females are larger than males. Adults are larger than Whiskered Screech-owls, with larger feet and more streaked plumage pattern.

There are several morphs: Brown Pacific, Grey Pacific, Great Plains, Mojave, & Mexican. All have either brown or dark gray plumage with streaking on the underparts. There is no red morph.

They have a round head with ear tufts, yellow eyes and a yellowish bill. Their appearance is quite similar to Whiskered and Eastern Screech-owls, therefore, it is best to identify them by their calls. They were previously considered to be the same species as the Eastern Screech Owl.[2]


The primary call is an accelerating series of short whistles at an increasing tempo or a short then long trill falling slightly at the end. Other calls barking and chuckling, similar to Eastern[2]

Range and habitat

The Western Screech-owl is native to Canada, United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.[1] Its habitat includes temperate forests, subtropical and tropical montane forests, shrubland, desert, rural fields and gardens and even suburban parks and gardens.[1]


They are permanent residents of western North America, breeding in open woods, or mixed woods at forest edges. They often use holes in tree cavities or cactus that were excavated by woodpeckers.


These birds wait on perches to swoop down on unsuspecting prey; they may also catch insects in flight. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, and birds, and large insects. They are active at night or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey.
Provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office

In popular culture

In the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky, Spoorn, the first liutenant to Skench, the evil Ablah General, is a Western Screech. Also, a much less prominent character, 47-2, is a Western Screech.


1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2009) Megascops kennicottii In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. www.iucnredlist.org Retrieved on 2011-01-02.
2. ^ a b The Sibley Guide to Birds, by David Allen Sibley, ISBN 0-679-45122-6

* BirdLife International (2004). Megascops kennicottii. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* "National Geographic" Field Guide to the Birds of North America ISBN 0-7922-6877-6
* Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 5, Josep del Hoyo editor, ISBN 84-87334-25-3
* "National Audubon Society" The Sibley Guide to Birds, by David Allen Sibley, ISBN 0-679-45122-6

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License