Flammulated Owl (Megascops flammeolus)

Flammulated Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Megascops flammeolus | [authority] Kaup, 1853 | [UK] Flammulated Owl | [FR] Petit duc nain | [DE] Ponderosaeule | [ES] Autillo Flamulado | [NL] Ponderosa-dwergooruil


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Megascops flammeolus NA, MA w


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

Smaller than a Screech-Owl. Our only small owl with dark eyes. Largely gray, with tawny scapulars and inconspicuous ear tufts. Southern birds are rustier. A little-known owl.

Listen to the sound of Flammulated Owl

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/STRIGIFORMES/Strigidae/sounds/Flammulated Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 16 cm
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broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
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North America, Middle America : West


Open pine forests in mountains.
Nests in relatively open forest, typically of ponderosa pine, in cool and fairly dry zones such as mountains of the interior. In some areas, favors groves of aspen. The upper level of its forest is usually quite open, but there may be a brushy understory
of oaks and other plants. In migration, sometimes found in dense thickets at lower elevations.


Male hoots at night early in season to defend territory and attract a mate. In courtship, female begs, male feeds her.
Nest: Site is in cavity in tree, usually old woodpecker hole, usually 15 -40′ above ground. Will also use artificial nest boxes. No nest built, eggs laid in bottom of nest cavity.
Clutch 2 -3, sometimes 4. White or creamy white. Incubation is by female only, 21 -24 days. Male brings food to incubating female at nest.
Female remains with nestlings for about 12 days after they hatch; male brings food for female and young. After about 12 days, female also hunts. Young leave nest by about 25 days after hatching, perch in trees nearby. At least sometimes, brood splits up
after fledging, each parent tending 1-2 of the young for about another 4 weeks.

Feeding habits

Large insects.
Feeds almost entirely on insects, especially moths, beetles, and crickets. Also eats a few spiders, centipedes, scorpions, and other arthropods. Almost never eats vertebrates, but was once proven to have eaten a shrew.
Behavior: Hunts most actively just after dark and near dawn, less in middle of night. Forages by perching and looking for insects, then flying out to catch them. May catch prey in the air or on the ground, but apparently most often take
s insects from foliage, hovering momentarily and grabbing them with feet.

Video Flammulated Owl


copyright: Paul Clarke


This species has an extremely 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). 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 may be moderately small to large, 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.
Flammulated Owl status Least Concern


Strongly migratory, with North American birds going to Mexico and Central America f
or winter. May tend to migrate north through the lowlands in spring (when insects may be scarce at upper elevations), and south through the mountains in fall.

Distribution map

Flammulated Owl distribution range map

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