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Pacific Screech-Owl
A Reference for North and Central American Owls

 The Pacific Screech-Owl can only be found right along the pacific coast from Oaxaca to Costa Rica. It is similar to the Vermiculated and Western Screech-Owls but ,of course, has a distinct call and slightly different markings. Here you can find photos, recordings and information to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. The Field Notes section includes a Central American range map and information on nesting, habitat, description and identification.  To jump immediately to any of these sections use the Page Jump Links below.

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Photo Gallery
Audio Recordings
Field Notes and Range Map 

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Click on the thumbnail to bring up each of the Owl photos.

Pacific Screech-Owl Photo

134K

Pacific Screech-Owl Photo

120K

Pacific Screech-Owl Photo

135K

Tarcoles,
Costa Rica
March 2011

Tarcoles,
Costa Rica
March 2011

Tarcoles,
Costa Rica
March 2011

Pacific Screech-Owl Photo

78K

Pacific Screech-Owl Photo

66K

Pacific Screech-Owl Photo

82K

Puerto Arista
Chiapas, Mexico
March 2002

Puerto Arista
Chiapas, Mexico
March 2002
Puerto Arista
Chiapas, Mexico
March 2002

RECORDINGS
Click on the sonograms to bring up each of the recordings.

Sound File
40K
Puerto Arista
Chiapas, Mexico
March 2002

Sound File
24K
Puerto Arista
Chiapas, Mexico
March 2002

This is actually three owls. The first short vocalization (a contact call) is a lone male. This is answered by a paired male then female (primary advertising and territorial call).

This is a male's primary advertising and territorial call. This is the most common call heard in the field.

FIELD NOTES and Range Map
Pacific Screech-Owl - Megascops (Otus) cooperi

Range Map 
The Pacific Screech-Owl is a strictly nocturnal owl (active at night), and is rarely seen and/or heard in the day unless flushed. It is a medium-large screech-owl that is slightly bigger that the Western Screech-Owl (9-10 inches in length = ~Quail size). The Whiskered and Vermiculated Screech-Owls do have some close ranges although these owls are not know to overlap. Generally the Pacific Screech-Owl also prefers a dryer and more open habitat than these other screech-owls. It is larger than both the Whiskered and Vermiculated Screech-Owls  although caution should be taken when identifying this owl and, as with most of the screech-owls, should always be confirmed by their call (these owls all have distinctive voices and calls).

 The Pacific Screech-Owl is found only along the Pacific coast from about Central Oaxaca, Southern Mexico to about as far south as Central Costa Rica. It is generally found in semi-open country with scattered trees from sea level to 3000 feet (1000 m.) in elevation. Also found in mangroves, giant cardon, cacti, lakeside fields swamp forests and less numerous in evergreen forests.

 This owl roosts in the day in thickets or tree holes and is more easily flushed than most owls. It often becomes active soon after dark and may be seen on low and/or open branches and fence posts. It hunts mostly  large insects such as moths, beetles and scorpions pouncing or flycatching from an open perch. It inevitably also takes some small rodents. 

 Breeding season for this owl is in the dry season, presumed to begin in March. Nests in knothole, woodpecker hole or natural cavity and lays 3-5 eggs; young seen in May. Family group remains together until early into the wet season. Although no population estimates are available, the Pacific Screech-Owl is not considered threatened and is fairly common to common within its range.

 Although slightly larger than the Vermiculated Screech-Owl, the Pacific Screech-Owl also has very fine streaking and vermiculations on the underparts. Other than these characteristics the Pacific Screech-Owl is typical in appearance with other screech-owls (Megascops family) and does not have striking field marks to differentiate it.

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