Athene (owl)

Athene (owl)

name = "Athene"

image_width = 200px
image_caption = Little Owl, "Athene noctua"
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Strigiformes
familia = Strigidae
genus = "Athene"
genus_authority = Boie, 1822
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision ="Athene blewitti"
"Athene brama"
"Athene cunicularia"
"Athene noctua"
and see text
synonyms ="Heteroglaux" "Speotyto" "Spheotyto" ("lapsus")

The genus "Athene" contains two to four living species of small owls. These birds are small, brown and white speckled owls, with yellow eyes and white eyebrows. This genus is found in all continents except for Australia, Antarctica, and Subsaharan Africa.

* Spotted Owlet, " Athene brama"
* Little Owl, " Athene noctua"
* Forest Owlet, " Athene blewitti" - sometimes placed in "Heteroglaux"
* Burrowing Owl, " Athene cunicularia" - sometimes placed in "Speotyto"
** Antiguan Burrowing Owl, "Athene cunicularia amaura" - extinct (c.1905)
** Guadeloupe Burrowing Owl, "Athene cunicularia guadeloupensis" - extinct (c.1890)

A number of mainly island representatives of this genus are only known from fossil or subfossil remains:

*"Athene megalopeza" (fossil; Rexroad Late Pliocene of WC USA) - sometimes placed in "Speotyto"
*"Athene veta" (fossil; Early Pleistocene of Rebielice, Poland)
*"Athene angelis" (fossil; Middle - Late Pleistocene of Castiglione, Corsica)
*"Athene trinacriae" (Pleistocene)
*"Athene" cf. "cunicularia" (fossil; Pleistocene of Barbuda, West Indies) - sometimes placed in "Speotyto"
*"Athene" cf. "cunicularia" (fossil; Pleistocene of Cayman Islands, West Indies) - sometimes placed in "Speotyto"
*"Athene" cf. "cunicularia" (fossil; Pleistocene of Jamaica, West Indies) - sometimes placed in "Speotyto"
*"Athene" cf. "cunicularia" (fossil; Pleistocene of Mona Island, West Indies) - sometimes placed in "Speotyto"
*"Athene" cf. "cunicularia" (fossil; Pleistocene of Puerto Rico, West Indies) - sometimes placed in "Speotyto"
*Cretan Owl, "Athene cretensis" (prehistoric; Crete, Mediterranean) The Cretan Owl was a flightless or near-flightless form that was more than 50 cm (almost 2 ft) tall. It went extinct soon after the island of Crete became inhabitated by humans.

Late Miocene (about 11 mya) fossil remains from Rudabánya (NE Hungary) have been tentatively assigned to this genus (Bernor "et al." 2002). Considering the known fossil range of "Athene" and the misassignments of many Miocene strigids from Europe, it may be a basal member of the present genus or not belong here. The supposed species "Athene" murivora" is the name given to subfossil bones of male Rodrigues Owls.


* Bernor, R.L.; Kordos, L. & Rook, L. (eds): Recent Advances on Multidisciplinary Research at Rudabánya, Late Miocene (MN9), Hungary: A compendium. "Paleontographica Italiana" 89: 3-36. [ PDF fulltext]

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