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Puerto Rican Screech Owl
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Information
Common Name Múcaro
Range archipelago of Puerto Rico
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae
Genus Megascops
Species Megascops nudipes
Conservation Status
LCSpecies
Least Concern

The Puerto Rican screech owl or Múcaro (Spanish via Taino) (Megascops nudipes), is a species of screech owl endemic of the archipelago of Puerto Rico belonging to the Strigidae family. The subspecies, Megascops nudipes newtoni, which was endemic to the Virgin Islands, was locally referred to as the cuckoo bird.

Taxonomy

The nominate form, Megascops nudipes nudipes, was originally described in 1800 by French ornithologist François Marie Daudin in Traite elementaire et complet d'Ornithologie, ou Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux as Otus nudipes. The species name, nudipes, makes reference to its bare legs and toes which are unusual among Megascops species. The recognized subspecies, Megascops nudipes newtoni, was described in 1860 by Lawrence in the Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History and is considered extinct. Furthermore, the validity of this subspecies has been questioned.

Description

The Puerto Rican screech owl is a small owl possessing a brown upperside, a light-brown to white underside, white brown lines and white eyebrows. Sexual dimorphism is minor in this species with females being slightly larger than males. On average, males weigh 137 g and females 143 g. The species measures from 23 to 25 cm in length.

The species is common in the island of Puerto Rico but is extirpated at the nearby islands of Vieques and Culebra. As with the majority of birds in Puerto Rico it is believed to have been more abundant before the clearing of forests for agricultural development in the early 20th century. It inhabits forests with large hollowed trees such as the Caribbean National Forest.

The breeding season spans from April to June. It nests in hollowed trunks and 1 or 2 eggs are deposited in each nest.

The main diet of the species consists of large insects and is complemented with small birds, geckos and small rodents.

The species calls throughout the year while hidden in thick foliage, typically at dawn. The species makes a loud coo-coo call which is the reason for its common name in the Virgin Islands.

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