Megascops asio - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Eastern Screech-Owl
Other English Common Names: eastern screech-owl
Synonym(s): Otus asio (Linnaeus, 1758)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Megascops asio (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 686658)
French Common Names: petit-duc maculé
Spanish Common Names: Tecolote Oriental
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102821
Element Code: ABNSB01030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 7666

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Strigiformes Strigidae Megascops
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Otus asio
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly treated as a subgenus within Otus (Marshall and King in Amadon and Bull 1988), but mitochondrial DNA and vocal differences with Old World species indicate that generic status is warranted (Konig et al. 1999).

Formerly considered conspecific with western O. kennicottii and Mexican and Middle American O. seductus and O. cooperi. Mixed pairs and overlap of Asio and kennicottii in se. Colorado and s. Texas attributed to long-distance dispersal in marginally poor habitat. Sympatry without interbreeding with kennicottii reported for w. Edwards Plateau (Dixon 1989).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 27Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4N5 (03Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S5), Arkansas (S4), Colorado (S4B), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S1), Florida (S5), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S4B,S4N), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5B,S5N), Louisiana (S5), Maine (S1S2B), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (SNR), Montana (S3S4), Nebraska (S4), New Hampshire (S4), New Jersey (S4B), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S4S5), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S3B,S3N), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S5), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S5B), Vermont (S3), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S5B,S5N), Wisconsin (S5B), Wyoming (S3)
Canada Manitoba (S3), Ontario (S4), Quebec (S3), Saskatchewan (S2S3)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Not at Risk (01Apr1986)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: The population of this owl is of a relatively healthy size with no apparent decline. 

Status history: Designated Not at Risk in April 1986.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Resident from southern Saskatchewan (Adam 1987) and southern Manitoba east across southern Canada and northern U.S. to Maine, south through eastern U.S. to San Luis Potosi, southern Texas, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida, west to eastern Colorado.

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: An estimate based on population size and area of occupancy of the eastern U.S.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations), with an estimated 900,000 individuals by Partners in Flight (2013).

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Estimated number by Partners in Flight is 900,000 globally (Partners in Flight, 2013).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: With an estimated global population of almost one million, there should be at least 125 good element occurrences.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species ahs the broadest ecological niche of any owl in its range and readily habituates to people (Gehlbach, 1995).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data for North America indicate a relatively stable trend for the period 2002-2012 (average decrease of -0.01 per year) (Sauer, et. al. 2014). Reported as declining in several areas througout the range (Ehrlich et al. 1992). In 1986, Penak (COSEWIC report) concluded that populations in Canada were relatively healthy, with no apparent decline. Trend in Canada was reported as "?stable" by Kirk et al. (1995).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data for North America indicate an insignificant declining trend (average of -1.53% per year) for the period 1966-2012 (Sauer, et. al. 2014). This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant increase over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) (Birdlife International, 2014).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: See global threat comments

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: See global threat comments

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: None.

Protection Needs: None.

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Resident from southern Saskatchewan (Adam 1987) and southern Manitoba east across southern Canada and northern U.S. to Maine, south through eastern U.S. to San Luis Potosi, southern Texas, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida, west to eastern Colorado.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
Canada MB, ON, QC, SK

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
WY Albany (56001), Big Horn (56003), Campbell (56005), Carbon (56007), Converse (56009), Crook (56011), Fremont (56013), Goshen (56015), Johnson (56019), Laramie (56021), Natrona (56025), Niobrara (56027), Park (56029), Platte (56031), Sheridan (56033), Sublette (56035), Sweetwater (56037), Teton (56039), Uinta (56041), Washakie (56043)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
10 Clarks Fork Yellowstone (10070006)+, Badwater (10080006)+, Upper Bighorn (10080007)+, Nowood (10080008)+*, Big Horn Lake (10080010)+, Shoshone (10080014)+, Upper Tongue (10090101)+, Middle Fork Powder (10090201)+, Upper Powder (10090202)+, Crazy Woman (10090205)+, Little Powder (10090208)+, Lance (10120104)+, Hat (10120108)+, Upper Belle Fourche (10120201)+, Redwater (10120203)+, Niobrara Headwaters (10150002)+, Upper North Platte (10180002)+, Pathfinder-Seminoe Reservoirs (10180003)+, Medicine Bow (10180004)+*, Middle North Platte-Casper (10180007)+, Glendo Reservoir (10180008)+, Middle North Platte-Scotts Bluff (10180009)+, Upper Laramie (10180010)+, Lower Laramie (10180011)+, Crow (10190009)+, Upper Lodgepole (10190015)+
14 New Fork (14040102)+, Upper Green-Slate (14040103)+, Big Sandy (14040104)+, Bitter (14040105)+, Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir (14040106)+, Blacks Fork (14040107)+, Muddy (14040108)+, Great Divide closed basin (14040200)+, Little Snake (14050003)+
17 Snake headwaters (17040101)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Bird.
Reproduction Comments: Eggs: March-May (April-May in north). Clutch size usually is 4-5 in north, 3 in Florida; increases south to north, and east to west. Incubation is mainly/entirely by female, 3-4 weeks. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at 30-32 days; usually one or both parents roost with young for several weeks after fledging. Most breed in first year. In Kentucky, juveniles dispersed in mid-July, an average of 55 days after fledging (Belthoff and Ritchison 1989).
Ecology Comments: Local population density in suitable habitat ranges from fewer than 1 to several per sq km (Johnsgard 1988). In Ohio, young dispersed an average of only 32 km by the spring following hatching; dispersal was much less in Texas and Kentucky (mean = 4.4 km) studies (Johnsgard 1988, Belthoff and Ritchison 1989). In Kentucky, juveniles settled 2-11 days after departing from natal areas; high mortality rate in juveniles (Belthoff and Ritchison 1989). Generally very sedentary. Home range size varies seasonally. Population fluctuations usually are minor, though die-offs may occur in far north when snow cover is deep and long-lasting (Voous and Cameron 1989).
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Sedentary.
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Old field, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Open woodland, deciduous forest, orchards, woodland/forest edge, swamps, parklands, residential areas in towns, scrub, and riparian woodland in drier regions. Evergreen woodland/ forest little used in northeastern U.S. Roosts in tree hollow, among foliage close to trunk, in rock crevice, old magpie nest, nest box, under eaves, or similar site.

Nests in natural cavity, old woodpecker hole, or bird box, often 1.5-9 m above ground; sites with opening of about 7-20 cm (Voous and Cameron 1989); in Kentucky avoided deep cavities (more than 60 cm) and shallow cavities, used cavities averaged 31 cm deep. In south-central Iowa, the highest use of nest boxes occurred in riparian sites (Iowa Bird Life, 1990).

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly mice, shrews, and insects, also other small vertebrates and invertebrates (Terres 1980). Opportunistic, takes whatever is readily available. Caches prey in tree holes and nest boxes.
Adult Phenology: Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Nocturnal
Length: 22 centimeters
Weight: 194 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Monitoring Requirements: See Smith et al (1987) and Carpenter (1987) for census methods and literature.
Biological Research Needs: Studies should focus on evolutionary considerations, range expansion and fragmentation, life history strategies, and interspecific niche dynamics (Gehlbach, 1995).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Small and Medium Owls

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Nest site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is not intended to delineate demographically independent populations or metapopulations (such units would be quite large) but rather serves to circumscribe breeding occurrences that are of practical size for conservation/management use.

Separation distance is larger than three times the diameter of an average home range for these volant species; based the diameter of larger home ranges of males, e.g. those of Northern Pygmy-Owls given below.

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl: post-fledging families used 9.3 to about 60 hectares until the young dispersed (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000).

Northern Pygmy-Owl: territory in Colorado estimated to be about 75 hectares (Rashid 1999, cited in Holt and Petersen 2000); home ranges of breeding males in Washington 170-230 hectares (A. Giese, pers. comm., cited in Holt and Petersen 2000); home ranges of males in Sweden averaged 231 hectares (Kullberg 1995).

Northern Saw-whet Owl: Two breeding males had home ranges of 142 and 159 hectares (Cannings 1987). Most breeding habitat probably supports a maximum of about 1 pair/square kilometer, often much less (Cannings 1993); singing males can be as close as about 250 meters apart (Swengel 1990).

Elf Owl: home ranges smaller, range 0.2-2.6, mean 1.0 hectares (Gamel 1997).

Flammulated Owl males had mean home ranges of about 14 hectares in Colorado (Linkhart 1984) and about 16 hectares in Oregon (during the incubation period; Goggans 1986). DNA data indicate very low differentiation among populations in different mountain ranges in New Mexico and Utah; evidently the species exhibits long-distance natal dispersal and frequent intermountain dispersal (Arsenault et al. 2005).

Whiskered Screech-Owls had home ranges about 1550 meters long, along permanent creek (Gehlbach and Gehlbach 2000).

Burrowing Owl: In Saskatchewan, the average home range was about 1.2 kilometers in diameter (Haug and Oliphant 1990).

Long-eared Owl: In Wyoming, breeding home range in riparian habitat varied from 34-106 hectares and averaged 51 hectares (Craighead and Craighead 1956).

Short-eared Owl: Breeding territories average 64 -74 hectares (Holt 1992, Clark 1975).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .6 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Conservatively based on an average home range of 27 hectares for a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl family (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000). A breeding male Northern Saw-whet Owl spent most of its active time in a core area of only 27 hectares (Cannings 1987).

Long-eared Owl: May use an IE of 0.8 km, which is the diameter of an average home range (Craighead and Craighead 1956).

Short-eared Owl: May use an IE of 0.9 km, which is based on an average breeding home range of 65 hectares.

Date: 26Feb2005
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Notes: Contains owls in the genera Otus, Glaucidium, Aegolius, Asio and Athene.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering individuals (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance larger than three times the diameter of an average home range for these volant species; based the diameter of larger home ranges of males, e.g. those of Northern Pygmy-Owls: in Washington 170-230 hectares (A. Giese, pers. comm., cited in Holt and Petersen 2000); in Sweden, averaged 231 hectares (Kullberg 1995).
Whiskered Screech-Owls had home ranges about 1550 meters long, along permanent creek (Gehlbach and Gehlbach 2000).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .6 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Conservatively based on a home range of 27 hectares; for example, a breeding male Northern Saw-whet Owl spent most of its active time in a 27-hectare core area (Cannings 1987).
Date: 16Apr2002
Author: Cannings, S.

Use Class: Roost
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring, nonbreeding, communal roosting at a given location; reliable observation of multiple individuals roosting in a distinct habitat patch in multiple years. To avoid creating EOs for ephemeral situations, there should be evidence of communal roosting over at least two different (though not necessarily consecutive) nonbreeding seasons.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is arbitrary. Pertinent biologically based separation criteria do not exist.
Date: 25Oct2012
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 13Mar2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Snyder, D., and G. Hammerson. Modified 2014-03-13 by Jue, Sally S.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 30Mar1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Gamel, C. M. 1997. Habitat selection, population density, and home range of the elf owl, Micrathene whitneyi, at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. M.S. thesis, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, Texas.

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