Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

White-throated Screech-owl (Megascops albogularis)


French: Petit-duc à gorge blanche German: Weißkehl-Kreischeule Spanish: Autillo gorjiblanco

Syrnium albogularis


, 1849,

Choachi, Bogotá


Sometimes placed in monotypic genus Macabra, or that name used as subgenus, on basis of lack of erectile ear tufts; vocal patterns, however, show close relationship with Megascops. Recent study using single mitochondrial gene suggested close relationship to largely Middle American M. trichopsis#R; this supported by subsequent study using three nuclear and three mitochondrial genes, which placed present species in clade with M. trichopsis, M. choliba, M. koepckeae and M. clarkii#R. Race obscurus possibly only a morph, or result of individual variation, and sometimes included in meridensis or remotus#R. E Ecuador form aequatorialis, treated as synonym of M. ingens, has previously been considered a race of present species or synonymized with nominate albogularis. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. obscurus (Phelps, Sr & Phelps, Jr, 1953) – Sierra de Perijá, on N Colombia–NW Venezuela border.
  • M. a. meridensis (Chapman, 1923) – Andes of W Venezuela.
  • M. a. macabrum (Bonaparte, 1850) – C & W Andes from Colombia and Ecuador S to N Peru (Cajamarca region).
  • M. a. albogularis (Cassin, 1849) – E Andes of Colombia and Ecuador.
  • M. a. remotus (J. Bond & Meyer de Schauensee, 1941) – E Andes from Peru S to C Bolivia (Cochabamba).
  • Descriptive notes

    20–27 cm; 130–185 g. Fairly large, distinctive screech-owl with large, rounded head almost without ear tufts, relatively long tail, dark plumage. Head and... read more


    Male song 7–30 gruff, barked notes, “churrochurro-churro-chu chu chu chu”, can be... read more


    Humid montane evergreen forest and cloudforest, especially stunted alpine forest; mostly open... read more

    Food and feeding

    Poorly known. Reported to feed mainly on insects and other arthropods, and perhaps small vertebrates. Nocturnal; forages in canopy.


    Female with enlarged ovary in Jul in Peru; nestlings in Oct in Ecuador; juveniles in Jan in Ecuador, Mar in C Peru, Sept in Venezuela.... read more


    Probably resident, though perhaps makes seasonal elevational movements.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Poorly known, but perhaps often overlooked; probably common; in surveys within known range, seen or heard in small numbers... 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. (2020). White-throated Screech-owl (Megascops albogularis). 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 20 February 2020).