Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Whiskered Screech-owl (Megascops trichopsis)


French: Petit-duc à moustaches German: Fleckenkreischeule Spanish: Autillo bigotudo

Scops trichopsis


, 1832,

Puebla, Mexico


Relationships uncertain. Recent study suggested that this species is closer to South American members of genus than to N congeners, appearing phylogenetically more closely related to Neotropical taxa M. choliba and M. albogularis#R. Has reportedly hybridized with M. kennicottii in Arizona#R. Several additional races described: pinosus (from Veracruz), ridgwayi (Michoacán) and guerrerensis (SW Mexico) included in nominate; pumilus (from Honduras) in mesamericanus. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. t. aspersus Brewster, 1888 – extreme S USA (SE Arizona) to N Mexico (Sonora and W Chihuahua; S Nuevo León to E San Luis Potosí).
  • M. t. trichopsis (Wagler, 1832) – highlands of C Mexico from about Durango S to Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas.
  • M. t. mesamericanus (van Rossem, 1932) – SE Mexico (Chiapas) to NC Nicaragua.
  • Descriptive notes

    17–19 cm; male 70–105 g, female 80–120 g. Smallish screech-owl (wing length 132–160 mm); occurs in grey and rufous morphs, latter more in S. Facial... read more


    Primary song a series of 8–12 evenly spaced “boot” or “boo” notes,... read more


    Occurs in dense groves of oaks within pine-oak zone of montane forest; prefers denser groves and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily insects and other arthropods such as spiders, usually winged; among favoured prey are grasshoppers (Acrididae, Tettigoniidae),... read more


    At N edge of range in Arizona, eggs found from 10 Apr–20 May, the latest nest a replacement clutch. Few nests located outside of... read more


    Primariy resident, normally occurring too far S to be significantly affected by winter reduction in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Common to fairly common; global population estimate 200,000, >95% in Mexico and Central America. Fire suppression in... 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). Whiskered Screech-owl (Megascops trichopsis). 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).