Fairly common throughout its large range, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl inhabits the interior of humid lowland forest. There, they are the most common screech-owl, as Tropical Screech-Owl (Megascops choliba) favors edges and second growth. Strictly nocturnal, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owls generally stay in thick lower vegetation, making it often difficult to view. They occur in red, brown, and gray morphs. The red and brown morphs are distinctly dark overall, but all morphs share the distinguishing long ear-tufts, dark facial disk, and dark eyebrows. Compared to Tropical Screech-Owl, Tawny-bellied is darker overall, and the darker eyebrows are a good field mark. Their song is a long series of rapidly-delivered hoots on a steady pitch. The pace of the song is faster in northern Amazonia, leading to speculation that the Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl may include two distinct species, very similar in appearance but differing in vocalizations.