Black-capped Screech Owl (Megascops atricapilla)

Black-capped Screech Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Megascops atricapilla | [authority] Temminck, 1822 | [UK] Black-capped Screech Owl | [FR] Petit duc a couronne noire | [DE] Kappeneule | [ES] Autillo Capirotado | [NL] Zwartkapschreeuwuil


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Megascops atricapilla SA se


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

A small owl with tufted ears. Facial mask black mottled with grey. Top and sides of the head black, other upperparts dark-grey with a conspicuous white collar. Primaries blackish brown barred with pale grey. Breast dark grey with mixed with white and light buff. Lower under parts pale buff with narrow black streaks. Bill light grey, feet pinkish white. Sexes are similar. Occurs in grey, brown and rufous morphs.

Listen to the sound of Black-capped Screech Owl

[audio: Screech Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 40 cm wingspan max.: 43 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 22 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


South America : Southeast


Its natural habitats are temperate forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and heavily degraded former forest


Very little details, nests in tree holes like old woodpecker cavities. Mostly a solitary breeder, but sometimes almost colonial, seems to prefer breeding in proximity of conspecifics.

Feeding habits

Primarily insects like beetles and locusts and moths, also small vertebrates. Hunts in canopy but also frequently in undergrowth, takes prey from branch, foliage or ground.

Video Black-capped Screech Owl


copyright: German Pugnali


This species has a very large range, and hence does not 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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not 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.
Black-capped Screech Owl status Least Concern


These owls are probably resident, but little is know about their movements.

Distribution map

Black-capped Screech Owl distribution range map

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