Tawny-bellied Screech Owl (Megascops watsonii)

Tawny-bellied Screech Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Megascops watsonii | [authority] Cassin, 1848 | [UK] Tawny-bellied Screech Owl | [FR] Petit duc de Watson | [DE] Watsoneule | [ES] Autillo del Amazonas | [NL] Donkerbruine Schreeuwuil


Monotypic species


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

In watsoni watsoni, the more northern form, the ground color of the underparts is ochraceous tawny, the white markings absent or comparatively restricted, and the black bars average fewer and broader. In the form from south of the Amazon (O. w. usta) The ground color of the underparts paler, the white markings are more extensive (present in all of our six specimens) extending from breast to, or even on, lower tail-coverts, and the black markings are finer and more numerous giving a vermiculated appearance wholly absent, or less highly developed in watsoni watsoni.

Listen to the sound of Tawny-bellied Screech Owl

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/STRIGIFORMES/Strigidae/sounds/Tawny-bellied Screech Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 21 cm size max.: 23 cm
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South America : Amazonia


Interior of lowland rainforest, sometimes edges of clearings. Species usta usually more watrer bound, found near rivers. Often in lower understorey.


No data

Feeding habits

Insects, grounddwelling vertebrates caught from the lower levels

Video Tawny-bellied Screech Owl


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


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). 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.
By some authorities the subspecies are seperated as two species, HBW and the AOU do not follow this split. Planetofbirds follows the HBW/AOU opinion.
Tawny-bellied Screech Owl status Least Concern


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Tawny-bellied Screech Owl distribution range map

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