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Black-and-white Owl Ciccaba nigrolineata

  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Anna Stearns

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Black-and-white Owl produces deep, gruff, barking hoots that suggest the call of Mottled Owl (Ciccaba virgata) but are less resonant and usually more emphatic (Howell and Webb 1995). The most common call variously is described as "a deep, resonant, deliberate hu, hu, hu, hóo-ah (last phrase slurred)" (Hilty and Brown 1986); as "a low grunt followed by a gruff, strident hoot huh, HOOoo" (Stiles and Skutch 1989); and as "an emphatic huwhoOOo" and variations on this, including a "series of 3-5 or more notes, last or penultimate note emphatic, woh-who-WHOW'woh or ha-ha-ha HAH, etc." (Howell and Webb 1995). Other vocalizations include a "fairly rapid series of 8-10 notes, whuk-whuk-whuk …, [and] a harder heh-heh-heh" (Howell and Webb 1995); a single loud, deep boo or whoou, given at intervals (Hilty and Brown 1986, Hilty 2003); and a scream or screech, variously described as "loud, wailing screams, wheeahew or meeeowh" (Howell and Webb 1995) or as "a high-pitched, dry scream, rising then falling, catlike and strained as though only air is being expelled" (Hilty 2003). Calls of females are similar to those of the male but are slightly higher pitched (König and Weick 2008). Females have been observed vocalizing from the nest (Gerhardt et al. 1994b). Young birds have a more breathy, ascending shriek (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

Additional audio recordings of vocalizations of Black-and-white Owl can be heard at Macaulay Library, at xeno-canto, and at Internet Bird Collection.

Nonvocal Sounds

No nonvocal sounds are reported for Black-and-white Owl. The closely related Black-banded Owl (Ciccaba huhula) has been observed intentionally clapping its wings near the nest, an apparent display that also is accompanied by vocalizations (Bodrati and Cockle 2013). Similar behavior should be looked for in Black-and-white Owl.

Recommended Citation

Stearns, A. (2014). Black-and-white Owl (Ciccaba nigrolineata), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.