Tropical Screech-Owl Megascops choliba

  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Polytypic: 9 subspecies
  • Authors: Gaelyn Ong


The clutch of 1 to 3 eggs (sometimes 6) are typically laid directly in natural cavities, abandoned bird nests, nest boxes, old woodpecker holes or even rotted-out fence posts.

Egg size: 34.3 x 29.3 mm

Description of chicks: The Tropical Screech Owl chicks are covered with white down, sparser on the dorsal area and their legs and feet were pale pink. The bill is pearl gray and has a white egg tooth. The nestlings eyes are closed at birth, but begin to open by the 6th day, and may not become fully open until the 10th day (Thomas 1977). The irides were cream color initially, not becoming yellow until about the 19th day. “The nestlings’ bills had changed by the 4th day to pale neutral gray (color 86) and the egg tooth was greatly diminished; the legs and feet were now almost translucent white. Feather sheaths were clearly visible on the larger nestling on the 6th day on its spinal, alar, and ventral tracts. Rictal bristles appeared on both birds in 2 weeks. By the 16th day their white natal down (protoptile) had generally changed to pale neutral gray (color 86) and white banded down (mesoptile) and their primaries and secondaries were beginning to expand. The central rectrices started to emerge from their sheaths on the 26th day. A Pesola scale was used to weigh the nestlings daily (except days 21 and 28) at about 18:00, before their first nightly feedings. The decreased weights recorded on the evenings of observation days 14 and 16 might be indicative of a lesser quantity of food brought to the nestlings on the previous nights. Weight losses on days 23, 25, and 27 possibly signal the approaching end of the nestling period” (Thomas 1977).

Recommended Citation

Ong, G. (2011). Tropical Screech-Owl (Megascops choliba), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.