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Megascops choliba

Tropical Screech-Owl

  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Polytypic 9 Subspecies

Authors: Ong, Gaelyn

Megascops choliba

Guarulhos/SP, Brazil; 4 December 2010 © Demis Buci

The Tropical Screech-Owl is the most common and widespread screech-owl of the neotropicis.  This species is found from Costa Rica south through much of lowland South America, and also is present on Trinidad.  The Tropical Screech-Owl is one of the most successful and adaptable species of screech-owl in South America, but little is known about its natural history.

This species is characterized by its ear tufts, light gray facial disk outlined in black and a distinct pattern of dusky, herringbone streaks on the underparts.  This species, which formerly was known as Otus choliba, has nine recognized subspecies. Most Tropical Screech-Owls are gray-brown in color; brown and red morphs also occur, although the red morph is rare.

Recommended Citation

Ong, Gaelyn. 2011. Tropical Screech-Owl (Megascops choliba), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Secondary forest
  • Foraging Strata:Understory/Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Flutter-chase
  • Diet:Small vertebrates and large arthropods
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Cavity
  • Clutch: 1 - 3
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern