Notice for readers: On March 31, Neotropical Birds will be integrated into the new Birds of the World, a powerful research database offering species accounts for every species on earth. Learn more at While Birds of the World is a subscription service, we remain committed to offering this content to Neotropical Birds contributors and to those unable to pay for it through our scholarship program. Stay tuned.

Balsas Screech-Owl Megascops seductus

  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Sarah Egan

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The territorial (or A-song) of Balsas Screech-Owl is described as "a rather loud series of gruff notes accelerating to a trill ('bouncing-ball' rhythm), book-book-bokbokbobobobrrrrr" (König and Weick 2008) or as a "bouncing-ball song [that] recalls Western Screech-Owl [Megascops kkennicottii] but gruffer, hooh-hooh hooh-hooh-hooh-hooh-hooh-hooh-hooh, etc." (Howell and Webb 1995). Both sexes sing, but the song of the female is slightly higher in pitch. Another vocalization (courtship or B-song?) is described as "a gruff, screaming whinny" (Howell and Webb 1995) or as "a series of gruff, screaming 'whinny' trills" (König and Weick 2008).

There are few available audio recordings of vocalizations of Balsas Screech-Owl; additional examples can be heard at Macaulay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported, although many species of screech-owls snap the bill when agitated, and Balsas Screech-Owl probably does the same.

Recommended Citation

Egan, S. (2014). Balsas Screech-Owl (Megascops seductus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.