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Megascops nudipes

Puerto Rican Screech-Owl

  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies

Authors: Goodson, Chloe


The Americas

Puerto Rican Screech-Owl (nominate nudipes) is resident throughout Puerto Rico, where it occurs in the lowlands, up to ca 900 m (Parker et al. 1996). 

The status of the Virgin Islands population (newtoni) is unclear, but dedicated searches have failed to find it, and it probably is extinct (Moreno 1998). Furthermore, its historical distribution is not well documented. It is widely reported to have occurred on Vieques (e.g. Raffaele 1989, Raffaele et al. 1993), but there is no specimen documentation from this island; the sole record is a second hand report (Wetmore 1927); and recent searches there failed to relocate it (Moreno 1998). Raffaele et al. (1993) suggested that newtoni "may occur in small numbers on Culebra", but Moreno (1998) could document no other published reports of its presence there. This screech-owl definitely occurred on St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas in the mid 19th century; there are no certain records since, although there are unverified secondhand reports from St. Thomas in the early 1990s (Moreno 1998). Owl pellets, possibly of this species, are reported from Guana Island, but there are no confirmed sightings. Some sources (e.g. Raffaele 1989, Raffaele et al. 1993) also include Virgin Gorda and Tortola in the range of newtoni, but Moreno (1998) could find no documented records.

Outside the Americas

Endemic to the Americas.


Puerto Rican Screech-Owl occurs in forested habitats, including in urban areas. Humid lowland forest is the primary habitat, though they also occur in dry forest. Any small territory with available nest cavities is ideal for this species.

Historical changes

Formerly occurred on the Virgin Islands, where now extinct (see Distribution and Conservation).

Fossil history

No information available - Contribute

Recommended Citation

Goodson, Chloe. 2014. Puerto Rican Screech-Owl (Megascops nudipes), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.