No studies on geographical variation. In the highlands of Chiapas there are records of two coloration types (reddish and gray) in the same location (Enríquez 2007, Enríquez and Cheng 2008). More studies are needed to determine if there is any geographic variation across its distribution.
Described by Sclater & Salvin in 1868.
Recent phylogenetic studies, based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data, have shown that the New World screech-owls belong to the genus Megascops Kaup 1848, rather than to the genus Otus (König et al. 1999, Banks et al. 2003). Twenty-six species of Megascops have been described, of which 10 are distributed in montane forest above 1000 m (7 are in Mesoamerica Region; Holt et al. 1999, König et al. 1999. Enríquez 2007). Within the genus, however, the affinities of the Bearded Screech-Owl have not been determined.