Puerto Rican Screech Owl - Megascops nudipes
Formerly Otus nudipes
Calls - Megascops nudipes
First classified by French naturalist François Marie Daudin in 1800, this
bird is sometimes known as the "Cuckoo Bird" in the Virgin Islands.
[For help with terms used in the description, see parts of an owl. For general characteristics common to most owl species, see owl physiology.]
Description: Puerto Rican Screech Owls come in a
greyish-brown and rufescent morph. They are nocturnal birds, and have a rounded head with
no ear-tufts. The facial disk is indistinct, the eyes are brownish and the beak
greenish-yellow. The eyebrows are lighter than the rest of their face.
Upper parts are spotted, slightly barred and streaked darker. Underparts are lighter then
upper parts, becoming whiter towards the belly - individual feathers having dark
shaft-streaks and cross-bars. The upper breast has many wavy, brown markings.
Flight and tail feathers are barred dark and light. Only the upper part of the legs is
Size: Length 20-22cm (7.9-8.7"). Weight 103-154g (3.6-5.4oz)
Habits: A nocturnal bird, hiding in dense foliage, thickets or caves during the day. Calls in the early morning and evening.
Voice: The male's main call is a short guttural
quavering trill of 3-5 seconds duration. He also has another
shorter trill which begins softly and rises in pitch and volume to a maximum and quickly
fades away. The female's call is similar, but higher in pitch. The contact call is
believed to be a soft, cackling gu-gu. They also make a loud coo-coo
call, which is how it gets the name of "Cuckoo Bird" in the Virgin Islands.
Hunting & Food: These owls eat mainly insects and
occasionally small mammals.
Breeding: Breeding season is believed to be April to June. They
generally nest in tree hollows and cliff crevices. The female lays 2-3 white eggs, and is
fed by her mate as she incubates them.
Mortality: No current information on longevity. Egg predation
by Pearly-eyed Thrashers (Margarops fuscatus) have been a problem for these owls.
Habitat: Dense Woodland, thickets and caves.
Distribution: Puerto Rico, Isla de Vieques, Isla de Culebra,
and adjacent Virgin Islands.
Distribution of the Puerto Rican Screech Owl Megascops nudipes
Status: Common on Puerto Rico, critically endangered on the Virgin Islands.
Original Description: Daudin, Francois Marie. 1800. Traité élémentaire et complet d'Ornithologie, ou Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux, 2, p. 199.
M. n. nudipes,
M. n. newtoni
Page compiled by Deane Lewis. Page last updated 2013-05-29
OwlPages.com Owl Species ID: 040.250.000