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.