Screech Owls

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“Scops. Little Horned Owls. Screech Owls. Like the miniature Bubo in form (all our species under a foot long). Skull and ear-parts symmetrical; latter small, simply elliptical, with rudimentry operculum; facial disc moderately developed; plumicorns evident; nostrils at edge of cere, which is not inflated, and shorter than the rest of the culmen. Wings rounded, but long, about twice the length of the short rounded tail, about to the end which they fold; in our species the 4th and 5th primaries longest, the 1st quite short; 3 or 4 outer primaries sinuate or emarginate on inner webs. Tarsus feathered (in our species), but toes only partly bristly (in the S. asio group) or quite naked (as in S. Flammeola). Plumage dichromatic in some cases; i.e. some individuals of the same species normally mottled gray, while others are reddish, the two phases very distinct when fully developed, but shading insensibly into each other, and entirely independent of age, season, or sex. In normal plumage, a white or whitish scapular stripe; lower parts with lengthwise blotches or shaft-lines and crosswise bars or waves of blackish or dark colors; upper parts with black or blackish shaft-lines on a finely-dappled brown or gray ground (more or less obliterated in the red phase); facial disc black-bordered nearly all around; wing-quills spotted or marbled on outer webs, barred on inner webs. Tail with light and dark bars. A large and nearly cosmopolitan genus, especially rich in tropical species; but only two are known to inhabit N. Am. one of them running into several local races very difficult to characterize satisfactorily.” Elliot Coues, 1884


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