Athene (owl)

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Athene
Athene noctua.jpg
Little owl, Athene noctua
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Athene
F. Boie, 1822
Species

Athene blewitti
Athene brama
Athene cunicularia
Athene noctua
and see text

Synonyms

Heteroglaux
Speotyto
Spheotyto (lapsus)

Athene is a genus of owls, containing two to four living species, depending on classification. These birds are small, with brown and white speckles, yellow eyes, and white eyebrows. This genus is found on all continents except for Australia, Antarctica, and Subsaharan Africa.

Living species[edit]

Extinct species[edit]

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 inhabited 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.

    • Antiguan burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia amaura - extinct (c.1905)
    • Guadeloupe burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia guadeloupensis - extinct (c.1890)

References[edit]

  • 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