Saw-whet and Sparrow Owls

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“Nyctala - Saw-whet Owls. Skull and ear-parts highly unsymmetrical, the the latter of great size, and fully operculate. Head very large (as in Strix), without plumicorns; facial disc complete, with centric eye. Nostril at edge of the cere, which is inflated or not. Tail from 1/2 to 2/3rds as long as the wing, rounded. Third and 4th primaries longest; 1st quite short; 2 or 3 emarginate on inner webs. Feet thickly and closely feathered to the claws. In this interesting genus the ear-parts are of great size, and reach the extreme of asymmetry, the whole skull seeming misshapen.” Glaucidium. Gnome Owls. Sparrow Owls. Pygmy owls. Size very small. Head perfectly smooth; no plumicorns; ear-parts small, non-operculate; facial disc very incomplete, the eye not centric. Nostril circular, opening in the tumid cere; bill robust. Tarsus fully and closely feathered, but toes only bristly for the most part. Wings short and much rounded, the 4th primary longest, the 1st quite short, the 3 outer ones emarginate, and next one or two sinuate. Tail long, about 3/4ths as long as the wing, even or nearly so. Claws strong, much curved. A large genus of very small owls, mostly of tropical countries. The numerous species, chiefly of warm parts of America, are in dire confusion, but the only two known to inhabit N. Am. are well determined. The plumage of many or most species is dichromatic, as in Scops, there being a red and a gray phase independently of age, season, or sex; but the red is not known to occur in our G. gnoma. The upper parts are marked with spots or lines; bars, or rows of spots, cross the wings and tail; the under parts are streaked; there is a cervical collar.” Elliot Coues, 1884


Birds: M-O


Elliot Coues Key to North American Birds (Boston, MA: Estes and Lauriat, 1884)


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