Screech owls or screech-owls are typical owls in the family Strigidae. They are in the genus Megascops. Human beings know about 24 living species of screech owls, but there might be more. People often find new ones, especially in the Andes.
Screech owls live in the Americas. Some species formerly placed with them are nowadays considered more distinct. The common name "screech owl" is sometimes used for the not closely related barn owl as well.
For a long time, scientists thought screech owls were kinds of scops owls, but now they do not.
Scientists are not sure how scops and screech owls are related, but they do know they are related at all. Both groups of owls fill the same niche where they live. That means they eat the same kinds of foods and do the same kinds of things for the enviornment. Scops owls live in the Old World and screech owls live in the New World. A screech-owl fossil from the Late Pliocene was found in Kansas. This means these birds lived in the Americas for a long time. The scops and screech owls probably evolved at during the Miocene. They probably became separate groups about 5 million years ago. Otus and Megascops have very similar bones. Their common ancestor was probably a small owl with ear tufts and feathers on at least the upper leg.
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