Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Guatemalan Screech-owl (Megascops guatemalae)


French: Petit-duc guatémaltèque German: Rotgesicht-Kreischeule Spanish: Autillo guatemalteco
Other common names: Middle American Screech-owl

Scops guatemalæ


, 1875,



Perhaps a member of the putative species-group centred on M. atricapilla (which see). Sometimes considered conspecific with M. atricapilla; has been treated as conspecific with M. vermiculatus (with races roraimae and napensis), but vocally distinct. Races tomlini, fuscus and thompsoni possibly inadequately differentiated to merit subspecific status and are not recognized in two recent treatments#R#R. Proposed races pettingilli and peteni included in cassini and nominate, respectively. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. g. tomlini (R. T. Moore, 1937) – NW Mexico (S Sonora and SW Chihuahua S to Sinaloa).
  • M. g. hastatus Ridgway, 1887 – SW Sinaloa to Oaxaca.
  • M. g. cassini (Ridgway, 1878) – E Mexico (S Tamaulipas, SE San Luis Potosi and N Veracruz).
  • M. g. fuscus (R. T. Moore & J. L. Peters, 1939) – C Veracruz.
  • M. g. thompsoni (Cole, 1906) – Yucatán Peninsula and Cozumel I.
  • M. g. guatemalae (Sharpe, 1875) – SE Mexico (S Veracruz and NE Oaxaca) to Honduras.
  • M. g. dacrysistactus (R. T. Moore & J. L. Peters, 1939) – NW Nicaragua.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; 95–150 g. Medium-sized Megascops; occurs in brown and rufous morphs. Brown morph with facial disc light brown and lightly barred white, with... read more


    Primary territorial song a rapid, quavering trill, c. 14 notes per second, increasing in pitch and... read more


    Humid lowland to semi-arid evergreen forest, semi-deciduous forest and thorn forest; also dense... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly large insects such as beetles, katydids, orthopterans; frogs, reptiles, fish and small rodents occasionally reported. Nocturnal... read more


    Little published information. Reported to lay mostly Mar–Apr, but incubation recorded in Jun in Yucatán Peninsula; juveniles... read more


    Presumably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Little information available, and no estimates of global population size; appears to be not rare locally. Has been recorded... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Guatemalan Screech-owl (Megascops guatemalae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 11 December 2019).