Bearded Screech Owl (Megascops barbarus)

Bearded Screech Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Megascops barbarus | [authority] Sclater and Salvin, 1868 | [UK] Bearded Screech Owl | [FR] Petit duc bride | [DE] Tropfeneule | [ES] Autillo Barbudo | [NL] Santa Barbara-Schreeuwuil


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Megascops barbarus MA s Mexico, n Guatemala


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

The ear tufts are very small. There is a light brown and reddish-brown morph. The face veil is light with a thin dark border. The top has brown, white and black spots, the spots on the upper mantle are a strong white. The shoulder feathers have black-fringed whitish outer flags. The chest has a thick brown and yellow-brown banding. Flanks and belly are white and show dark shaft streaks. The barrel is feathered. The wings extend beyond the short tail. The iris is yellow. The beak is greenish-gray. The toes are pink-gray. Representatives of the reddish-brown patterned morphs are less strong and the markings on the top and bottom are reddish brown.

Listen to the sound of Bearded Screech Owl

[audio: Screech Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 20 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 5  


Middle America : South Mexico, North Guatemala


This species is found in montane evergreen and humid pine-oak forest at elevations of 1800-2500 m


Its nest has not been described, but it is known to lay 4-5 eggs

Feeding habits

Its diet consists mainly of large insects


This species is listed as Near Threatened because it occupies a moderately small range, which is suspected to be in decline, owing to the loss and degradation of its habitat. Future studies into the species’s ecology and life history may help in understanding the impact of current threats.
Megascops barbarus occurs in the highlands of the Isthmus de Tehuantepec, south-east Mexico, and west Guatemala.
Bearded Screech Owl status Near Threatened


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Bearded Screech Owl distribution range map

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