Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Puerto Rican Screech-owl (Megascops nudipes)


French: Petit-duc de Porto Rico German: Nacktfuß-Kreischeule Spanish: Autillo puertorriqueño

Strix nudipes


, 1800,

Puerto Rico


Earlier suggestion that this species may be very close to Cuban Margarobyas lawrencii considered unacceptable; latter separated at genus level by very different morphology and vocal patterns. Recent analysis using three nuclear and three mitochondrial genes found that present species sister to Flammulated Owl (Psiloscops flammeolus), not Megascops#R. Validity of race newtoni has been disputed; possibly only a morph. Proposed form krugii is synonym of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. n. nudipes (Daudin, 1800) – Puerto Rico.
  • M. n. newtoni (Lawrence, 1861) – Vieques I, off E Puerto Rico (one record, probably extinct), and unconfirmed report from nearby Culebra I; also Virgin Is (St Thomas, St John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St Croix, probably Guana I). Possibly extinct throughout entire range.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; 103–154 g. Medium-sized, with markedly rounded head lacking ear tufts (or rarely visible). Occurs in brown and rufous morphs. Facial disc rather dark,... read more


    Primary song short, deep trill c. 3–5 seconds long; secondary song shorter, 2 seconds, slight... read more


    Forest and woodland of all types; coffee plantations, isolated coastal thickets, also small... read more

    Food and feeding

    Poorly known for so common an owl. Mainly insects, such as grasshoppers and crickets, and other arthropods; occasionally small vertebrates... read more


    Poorly studied. Season Apr–Jun. Nest in tree cavity or cave, sometimes in cliff crevice or even cavity under eave of house. Clutch... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Restricted-range species: present in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands EBA. Common in Puerto Rico, with no immediate... 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. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Puerto Rican Screech-owl (Megascops nudipes). 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 14 December 2019).