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Western Screech-Owl - BirdForum Opus

Photo by oldsquaw
Pueblo, Colorado
Megascops kennicottii

Otus kennicottii


  • Brown or dark grey plumage
  • Streaked underparts
  • Round head with ear tufts
  • Yellow eyes
  • Yellowish bill.


Subspecies M. k. bendirei
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Briones Regional Park, Martinez, California, USA, 28 May 2021

Alaska and north-western Canada to California and Mexico.


This and almost all Screech-Owls in the Americas have previously been considered to belong in the same genus (Otus) as the European and Asian Scops-Owls, but a reassignment to Megascops has been accepted by among other authorities, the American Ornithologists' Union.

Photo © by digishooter
Keysville: Kern Co., California, USA, May 2011

A study showing strong genetic structure may indicate a possible future split.


  • M. k. kennicottii:
  • M. k. macfarlanei
  • M. k. bendirei:
  • M. k. aikeni:
  • M. k. cardonensis:
  • M. k. xantusi:
  • M. k. yumanensis:
  • M. k. vinaceus:
  • Northern Mexico (southern Sonora and western Chihuahua to northern Sinaloa)
  • M. k. suttoni:


Open deciduous or mixed woods.


They are active during the night or as dusk approaches.


They nest in a cavity in a tree or cactus, often using old woodpecker holes.


They wait on a perch and swoop down on prey; they may also catch insects in flight. The diet includes small mammals and large insects, also small birds.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Paper describing genetic findings with this species

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.