Bare-shanked Screech Owl (Megascops clarkii)

Bare-shanked Screech Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Megascops clarkii | [authority] Kelso and Kelso, 1935 | [UK] Bare-shanked Screech Owl | [FR] Petit duc a pattes nues | [DE] Nacktbein-Eule | [ES] Autillo Serrano | [NL] Kaalpootschreeuwuil


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Megascops clarkii LA Costa Rica to nw Colombia


The genus Megascops comprises 22 living species are known at present, but new ones are frequently recognized and unknown ones are still being discovered on a regular basis, especially in the Andes. For most of the 20th century, this genus was merged with the Old World scops-owls in Otus, but nowadays it is again considered separate based on a range of behavioral, biogeographical, morphological and DNA sequence data. Screech-owls are restricted to the Americas. Some species formerly placed with them are nowadays considered more distinct.
As usual for owls, female screech-owls are usually larger and fatter than the males of their species, with owls of both sexes being compact in size, shape, and height. The Eastern Screech-owl Megascops asio is one of the smallest species of owls in North America. All of the birds in this genus are small and agile. Screech-owls are generally colored in various brownish hues with usually a whitish, patterned underside, which helps to camouflage them against the bark of trees. Some are polymorphic, occurring in a grayish- and a reddish-brown morph.

Physical charateristics

It has a large head, small ear tufts (compared to other screech owls), yellow iris and a grey bill. Its face is cinnamon with a poorly defined, slightly darker facial rim, throat and head. It has darker blackish markings on its upper chest and throat; lighter cinnamon color middle/lower chest and stomach with buff white patchy spots. It’s back side is rufus-brown.

Listen to the sound of Bare-shanked Screech Owl

[audio: Screech Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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Latin America : Costa Rica to Northwest Colombia


It inhabits humid dense mountain forests, forest edges and cloudforests from about 1000 to 2500m up. Sometimes it can be found in thinner upland forests but requires at least patchy forest.


Nesting is described from a single record in a natural cavity in an oak tree. Lays mid February through May and although little is known, fledged young are seen May through August.

Feeding habits

It feeds mainly on large insects such as crickets, grasshoppers and beetles along with some shrews and small rodents. Nocturnal hunter, taking prey from ground or banches. Observed to hunt large insects close to lights.


Although this species may have a small range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Bare-shanked Screech Owl status Least Concern



Distribution map

Bare-shanked Screech Owl distribution range map

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